By Angela Nwaeze Mbaocha
Outbreak of another deadly deceased, yellow fever has killed about sixteen persons in Ebonyi state, while forty six infected others are still receiving treatment.
The incident has been confirmed by the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health, Dr. Chirs Achi, who revealed that it happened in the Ndungele community in Izzi Local Government Area of the state and that 62 cases were recorded.
He narrated how he got a distress call from a villager who raised the alarm over the strange deaths in the community which prompted him to send rapid response team to the area.
Stating that before the ministry could wade in fully, about sixteen people were already dead while 46 others were already infected, adding that the yellow fever outbreak was coming 21 years after the State had the last experience.
Dr Achi noted that on getting to the community, the response team immediately conducted case search on some of the victims who were already presenting the symptoms, stressing that initially some of them were moved to Ndungele health facility and Iboko health centre, but when the case became critical, they moved them to the Virology Center in Abakaliki.
According to him, “Somebody called me from one of the villages in Izzi Local Government that there is a way people are dying in the village, that he is suspecting that something maybe wrong”.
“On getting the call, I immediately called health workers working in the area who said no such case came to their clinic. I had to send our rapid response team to visit the place regrettably, they got there it was a case of yellow fever and unfortunately we have had about 16 deaths from the place.
“Another set of the response team had to be moved to the place, conduct case search on those who already had the symptoms, we immediately moved those still carrying the virus to the health facility at Ndungele and when it was serious we moved some to the virology center here in Abakaliki”.
“The problem about the outbreak was that our people did not believe that they will go to the hospital when they experience this yellowness of the eyes, they believe that it can be treated with local herbs, that is why we recorded casualties which should not have been”.
“We have always insisted that people should make use of our health facilities. In every 171 political wards in Ebonyi State, we have one health center that will serve them,” he stated.
Dr. Achi noted that someone had on the 15th of July, 2019 notified federal ministry of health and center for disease control who has in the last two weeks been in the State to access the level of the problem and thanked God they equally came with drugs and consignment.
“We are equally doing much to ensure that it does not spread to other parts of the capital city. Yellow fever is not transmitted from human to human. It can only be transmitted through Mosquito.
“There are forest monkeys that equally carry yellow fever virus and if mosquitoes bite the monkey and then bite somebody in the forest, or farm within 3 days, the person will start having the yellow fever virus. It will continue to transmit the virus that is the way the virus spread.
“There was an outbreak of Yellow Fever in Benue State, so we are tracing how it came to Ebonyi state. Some of the patients are still in the hospital but some have been discharged. The state government has provided all it takes to control the outbreak. All we want from our people is to report early.
“Yellow fever comes with fever, typhoid and if it is not dictated on time it will start eating blood and the person will go into coma. Some of them will go into renal shut down, that is why those who survived have to report to the hospital and go for renal test.
“It damages the cells and can even lead to convulsion. Because of the damage the liver cell that’s why we have the jaundice, yellowness of the skin.
“Everybody is at risk, because if mosquito bites someone who is already infected and still bite someone who is not, that person becomes a carrier.
“It has incubation period of three to six days in the human body and after that it will start giving you signs like fever.
“It is the Aedes Specie of the mosquito that transmits the disease. The government wants to carry out general awareness campaign. That is why we say every child at the age of 9 months will be given yellow fever vaccine, he added”
Speaking on measures taken by the ministry to curtail the spread of the decease he stated: ”We equally have to move mosquito treated nets to the community to ensure that every member of that community sleeps under the treated net. We also moved mosquito treated nets to the hospitals so that mosquitoes that have bitten an infected person will not bit another person to continue the spread of the virus.
“The treatment is just conservative, because it is a viral infection which is quite unlike Lassa fever that you can use a particular drug to treat. This one is just supportive treatment.
“We replace blood because, some of the patients lose blood, we give fluid and we treat other underlining infections. We equally take care of the fever and stabilize the person and do barrier nursing of the patients.
“We have sensitized members of the community and we have been on active case search to identify those who are still carrying the virus within the community in order to bring them to the facility. Our next line of action is yellow fever vaccination campaign which we are going to cover the entire state; starting from the affected local government area.
“Every child that is born supposed to be given yellow fever vaccine at the age of nine months and the vaccine gives life long immunity to the child. Adults who received the yellow fever vaccination are equally immune for ten years, while those who suffered it and survived, it will give them life long immunity. And as an adult, for you to be immune, you must have taken the vaccine 10-14 days before getting infected so that you body would have built up anti bodies against the yellow fever. We started yellow fever vaccination in 2004. So, any child that is born before 2004 who didn’t have the opportunity of getting this yellow fever vaccine is all vulnerable.
“So, if you check the ages of those affected by this disease, they are those who were born before 2004 or those who didn’t receive the yellow fever vaccine. So, the only way we can prevent it is by making sure people get vaccinated.” he stated.
He also advised against self medication, stressing that people need to visit nearest health facilities when they are sick so that proper diagnosis could be made.
Dr. Achi also enjoined people to sleep inside treated mosquito net, while those going to the farm are advised to wear long sleeves, booth and even hand gloves to avoid exposing themselves to mosquitoes.
While those looking after a patient that is suffering yellow fever are expected to properly cover themselves to avoid mosquito bite.
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