The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has said that four persons have died from unknown disease recorded across six local government areas of Sokoto State.

Director-General of NCDC, Dr. Jide Idris, who disclosed this at a press briefing on Tuesday in Abuja, said the affected wards include Bargaja (22), Isa North (17), Isa South (98), Tozai (12), Tsabre (4), and Turba (11).

“Unfortunately four (4) deaths have been recorded amongst the suspected cases,” Idris said.

“The NCDC was notified by the Sokoto State Ministry of Health on March 21, 2024, of reported cases of children presenting with symptoms which include abdominal distension due to rapid onset of fluids in the abdomen (ascites), fever, vomiting and weight loss from Isa Local Government Area (LGA) of Sokoto State.

“Most of these cases are children aged 4 – 13 years, including some adults. The patients came from different wards and settlements across the LGA,” the NCDC boss said.

He informed that two suspected cases are currently receiving care in Uthman Dan Fodio University Teaching Hospital (UDUTH) in Sokoto and one case discharged on account of improved symptoms.

Dr. Idris added that four other suspected cases are also on admission at the Isa General Hospital.

He said about 130 cases are also receiving care either within the Primary Healthcare Centres (PHC) or home care in the affected LGA.

On the causes of the illness, the DG said initial clinical assessment and investigations of the cases admitted at the Teaching Hospital ruled out an infectious origin of this event, necessitating the need to search for other causes, including heavy metal testing.

“Results of the initial test for heavy metals for the index and first few suspected cases, revealed different blood levels of lead (Pb) and Chromium (Cr).

“Observed activities in the affected communities include mining, agricultural practices which involve the use of various types of chemicals and pesticides, the health-seeking behavior and practices of the communities which may be detrimental to people’s health.

“In this regard, various samples of materials have also been taken and dispatched for analyses, including blood, abdominal fluids, environmental samples like soil and water, locally grown food produce including vegetables and grains, substances and ingredients used for food and drinks, pesticides and chemicals used in local guns,” he said.

The NCDC boss recalled that a similar incident was previously documented in 2023, also without a definitive diagnosis.



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