Mysterious Deaths Not Caused by Lassa Fever, Says Kogi Govt

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Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja

The Kogi State government saturday revealed that those who died from a mysterious disease in the state were not victims of Lassa fever.

The state government also said it would investigate and count the number of grave sites of those affected to determine the actual number of people who died as a result of the mysterious disease suspected to be gastroenteritis and malaria.

Addressing newsmen in Lokoja saturday, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Saka Audu, dispelled the rumour of 62 people killed by alleged strange ailment in Yagba West Local Government Area of the state, saying it was the initial information given by the Fulani leader in the villages.

He further disclosed that the epidemic started six weeks ago at Okunran, Okoloke and Isanlu-Esa all in Yagba West local government and appealed for calm from the people, saying the state is addressing the situation.
According to Audu the disease was not a case of Lassa fever, as laboratory tests carried out on the patients by medical experts drafted to the community proved negative. He said those so far diagnosed were found to be suffering from gastroenteritis and Malaria.

“The current information available to us is that the strange disease actually started six weeks ago in Okoloke village in Yagba West, which is a settlement that is predominantly inhabited by Fulani herdsmen.
“There have been cases of reported deaths following abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea, but the patients who showed signs of illness had since been evacuated and transported to Kogi State Specialist Hospital, Lokoja for better treatment.

“So far, we have evacuated 39 patients from Okoloke area and only six of them were admitted and have shown significant sign of improvement while others have since been discharged.

“Out of the six that were admitted, three of them were diagnosed of gastroenteritis and the remaining three were just cases of malaria, and they have shown remarkable signs of improvement,” Audu said.

He added “Honestly, we have decided to carry out the ideal findings, so that we can come up with the actual figure of deaths. We will investigate and trace the dead people to the graveyard and come up with the correct figure.
“We want to assure the general public that government is doing all that is humanly possible to stay on top of the situation and forestall further loss of lives. We will continue to inform the public as the investigation progresses”, the commissioner added.

Also speaking, the State’s Epidemiologist, Dr. Francis Akpa, said anytime there was an outbreak of disease, the first thing to do was to find out where the patients went to and carry out tests on them.

He said the information they got from their disease surveillance system was that one of the three patients brought to ECWA hospital in Egbe, was suspected to have Lassa fever, but when his sample was taken to Irua hospital in Edo state, the result was negative, saying it lowered their suspicion of Lassa fever.

He added that the claim by the Fulani leaders in the villages about the death toll cannot be taken to be correct until the medical personnel in the state carry out an empirical assessment to have conclusive proof and the actual figure of the number of deaths recorded.

Meanwhile when THISDAY visited the Kogi State Specialist Hospital yesterday, some of the affected Fulani patients who were on admission were observed as responding to treatment.

A parent of one of the patients, who said he lost his four-year-old son as a result of illness, told newsmen that he was not sure of the numbers but admitted that some Fulani camps lost two to three persons.

However, Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Dr. Bolorunduro Ehalaiye while speaking with newsmen said 40 patients were rushed to the hospital and after medical extermination only six people were admitted and they are responding to treatment.