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NCDC holds emergency meeting as ‘unknown disease’ spreads to Zamfara

NCDC office NCDC office

Jide Idris, director-general of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), held an emergency meeting with commissioners for health in Sokoto and Kaduna over an unknown illness in Sokoto and Zamfara states.

According to a statement by the NCDC, the meeting held on April 16 at NCDC headquarters in Abuja, with the director-general also speaking with Zamfara’s commissioner for health over the phone.

The NCDC said Idris and the commissioners discussed unravelling the cause of the illness as well as containing and mitigating its impact.

“The Honourable Commissioners (Hajiya Asabe Balarabe, Dr. Aisha Anka and Hajiya Umma Ahmed) discussed the current situation, provided updates on response efforts, and agreed with the DG of NCDC on further measures to contain and mitigate the impact of the illness suspected to be heavy metal poisoning possibly linked to mining activities,” the statement reads.

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“As of today, a total of 196 suspected cases of the unknown illness with seven (7) deaths have been reported across Isa, Sabon Birni, and Ilella Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Sokoto State.

“Results of the analyses on the various samples sent to the different sister laboratories including NIPRID, NAFDAC and NIMR are being awaited.

“Following reports of similar cases in Zamfara state, another National Rapid Response Team (NRRT) will be deployed this week to assess the situation and provide support to the state.”

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The NCDC urged affected and nearby communities in Kaduna, given its proximity to Sokoto and Zamfara states, to report any symptoms including fever, abdominal swelling and pain, vomiting, and weight loss to the nearest health facility or call NCDC toll free line (6232).

“Healthcare workers are urged to report any suspected cases to LGA/State Disease Surveillance and Notification Officer or State Epidemiologist,” the statement reads.

The NCDC had recently said it was investigating a mysterious illness that emerged in Isa LGA of Sokoto, which was reported to the agency on March 21, 2024.

It said the illness primarily afflicted children aged four to 13, and listed symptoms to include abdominal distension, fever, vomiting, and weight loss.

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