Palpable fear has gripped the people Ette and Umuopu communities of Igboeze North Local Government Area of Enugu State following an outbreak of a strange disease which has so far claimed the lives of over 50 inhabitants in the area.
Reports from the area had it that two of the Communities mostly affected are Ette and Umuopu all at the border between Enugu and Kogi States.
According to the Disease Surveillance and Notification Officer in the Local Government Area, Vincent Oshomi, the cause of the strange deaths is not yet known although he told reporters that the Enugu State Ministry of Health has been alerted and specimen of the affected persons in the communities collected for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Oshomi also disclosed to newsmen on Thursday that the disease broke out at Ette at the beginning of September 2020, and spread to the border community of Umuopu, where 20 persons had died.
He further explained that the victims presented symptoms such as convulsion, diarrhoea before vomiting blood, adding that they are suspecting Lassa fever or cholera.
He also said “Between September and now, at least 37 persons have died at Ette community. Also, Umuopu community, which shares a common border with Ette have recorded 20 deaths, four of which happened yesterday. It has been a strange development.
“I have officially informed the state’s Ministry of Health and investigations are currently ongoing to unravel the cause of the deaths. We have collected samples of affected persons and we are looking out for Lassa fever, cholera, yellow fever and meningitis. Coronavirus test will equally start in the affected communities today.
“The state’s Ministry of Health has brought an ambulance we are using to convey the sick ones to Enugu for proper diagnosis and treatment.”
While reacting to the development, the chairman of the local government area, Ejike Itodo, who said he was on top of the situation, added that he would convene a meeting of stakeholders to begin thorough enlightenment about the strange disease.
Assuring the affected communities that the situation would be put under control, the local government boss said that the state’s Ministry of Health and other health workers in the council area are working assiduously to ensure that more casualties will not be recorded.
Also reacting the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Emmanuel Ikechukwu Obi, said that the ministry has collected samples from patients and sent to the National Reference Laboratory for investigation.
In a statement, Obi said that the State Rapid Response Team of the Ministry visited Igbo-Eze North LGA and met with the Local Government Area Rapid Response Team, disclosing that “on-the-spot-check and outbreak investigation have revealed a number of deaths from an illness with symptoms suggestive of a disease of Public Health Importance”.
Obi stated that the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has been informed “and is collaborating with the Enugu State Ministry of Health at the LGA to investigate and control the reports”.