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Hepatitis E ‘kills four pregnant women in Borno, 400 IDPs infected’

Hepatitis E ‘kills four pregnant women in Borno,  400 IDPs infected’
August 11
12:57 2017
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At least four pregnant women have died, while more than 400 internally displaced persons (IDPs) have been infected with hepatitis E in Ngala council area of Borno state.

Nicolerta Bellio, MSF medical coordinator, disclosed this in a statement issued in Maiduguri, the state capital.

Bellio said the highly contagious disease, which infiltrated the camp from Niger, spread through Ngala camp due to a combination of poor living conditions and flooding.

WHAT IS HEPATITIS E?

  • Hepatitis E is a virus that affects the liver. It can be contacted by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated by feces from an infected person.
  • It can also contacted from contact with an animal, such as eating poorly cooked meat from or touching an infected pig.
  • Its symptoms include fatigue, weight loss, nausea, jaundice, pain on the right side of the belly, under the rib cage where the liver is.

According to Bellio, the camp shelters some 45,000 people who have fled violence stemming from the conflict between Boko Haram and the military.

Bellio said given the poor living condition in the camp, it was a surprise that the number of cases had not escalated, or even led to an outbreak of cholera.

“The situation in Ngala is very worrying. The onset of the rainy season has caused repeated flooding in the camp and water gushes across pathways, latrine holes and into people’s shelters,” Bellio said.

“When it rains, the whole camp gets covered in mud and dirty water. This is a recipe for spreading bacteria and disease particularly as people don’t always use the latrines that have been installed in the camp, so wastewater washes out everywhere.

“There have been more than 400 cases of hepatitis E in the past two months and we have treated 170 patients at our hospital, so it’s no surprise that an outbreak of hepatitis E has been declared.”

Bellio also spoke of the dangers of the disease on pregnant women and sensitised the people on how to avoid the disease.

“Generally, people recover from hepatitis E if they receive treatment, but the disease can be very dangerous for pregnant women and their unborn babies,” he said.

“Hepatitis E leads to high rates of spontaneous abortions and stillbirths, as well as babies being born prematurely.

” It can also cause severe haemorrhages in mothers, both during childbirth and after giving birth.

“Something as simple as soap and clean water could have prevented these deaths.

“Our health promotion teams are working with the community to clean the camp of dirty water and waste.

“We have also distributed soap and chlorinated the water supply, although chlorine is less effective against hepatitis E than it is against cholera, for example.

“Other humanitarian organisations have also worked to improve the water supply. The rains will continue for several months, and we fear that this could mean more cases of hepatitis E or, even worse, an outbreak of cholera.

“If this happens, Ngala’s remote location and the security situation in the area will make it very difficult for us to respond. In fact, it would be a disaster.

“MSF has been working in Ngala camp since October 2016 and currently runs a hospital providing inpatient and outpatient treatment, malnutrition treatment and maternity.”

The Borno state emergency managment authority (SEMA) is yet to make official comment on the situation.

The Boko Haram insurgency has had an adverse effect on residents of the north-east.

On Thursday, Tukur Buratai, chief of army staff, said the economic impact of Boko Haram activities in the north-east is estimated at $9 billion (N274.5b).

Buratai, represented by Peter Dauke, general officer commanding, 81 division, Lagos, made the assertion at the first annual conference of the guild of corporate online publishers.

Editor’s note: The pciture used is not that of the camp where the victims died

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