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Meningitis outbreak kills 20 Nigerian school students

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By Francesca Hangeior

A meningitis outbreak has killed at least 20 boarding school students and infected hundreds more, the education commissioner in northeastern Yobe state said on Wednesday.

“We have recorded an outbreak of meningitis in six secondary schools in the state which led to the death of 20 students out of the 473 infected,” Mohammed Sani Idriss said.

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The epicentre of the outbreak is the city of Potiskum and its Government Technical College has been worst hit, accounting for 17 of the deaths, Idriss said.

The schools are under medical surveillance with isolation centres and emergency care facilities, he said.

“The situation is under control because we have not recorded any new cases in the past two days while 370 of those hospitalised have recovered and been discharged,” Idriss added.

Meningitis is an infection of the lining around the brain and spinal cord, transmitted through respiratory droplets or throat secretions.

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It has a high fatality rate and children are especially at risk.

Nigeria lies in the so-called “meningitis belt” of sub-Saharan Africa, stretching from Senegal in the west to Ethiopia in the east, where outbreaks of the disease are common.

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Measles Outbreak Claims Lives Of Ten Children In FCT

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Tragedy has struck the Damangaza community in Lokogoma District, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, as ten children have tragically lost their lives in a suspected measles outbreak.

James Budebo, Head of the Damangaza community, revealed this during a crucial outreach programme held on Friday in Abuja. The event, organized by PHC Damangaza in collaboration with the Vaccine Network for Disease Control (VNDC), aimed to address urgent health concerns in underserved communities.

Measles, a highly contagious viral infection, has been identified as the cause behind the recent fatalities. The disease is characterized by symptoms including fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes, and a distinctive rash, posing severe risks, particularly to young children and individuals with compromised immune systems.

Highlighting the importance of vaccination in preventing measles outbreaks and associated complications, Budebo stressed the community’s need for widespread immunization to safeguard residents, especially vulnerable populations.

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Mrs. Chika Offor, CEO of VNDC, underscored the critical nature of the one-day outreach programme in responding to the health crisis in Damangaza. She emphasized the organization’s commitment to enhancing vaccine accessibility and dispelling misconceptions through community engagement and education.

Ms. Longtang Shawen, a Health Worker at PHC Damangaza, emphasized the broader health challenges exacerbated by the outbreak, including limited healthcare access and the crucial role of education in promoting hygiene and preventing vaccine-preventable diseases.

Community leader Chief Bello Musa confirmed that the Public Health Department, FCT, has been alerted to the situation, with ongoing efforts to address the outbreak effectively.

Responding to the crisis, Dr. Teresa Nwachukwu, FCT Epidemiologist, pledged to investigate the current measles outbreak, acknowledging the urgent need for coordinated intervention to mitigate further spread.

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The recent outbreak in Damangaza underscores broader national concerns, as data from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) indicate significant measles cases reported across various states in 2023. The statistics highlight the imperative for sustained vaccination campaigns and robust public health measures to curb measles outbreaks nationwide.

As efforts continue to contain the outbreak in Damangaza, authorities and healthcare providers remain vigilant, emphasizing the critical role of vaccination in safeguarding community health and preventing future outbreaks.

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Beware! Covid-19 still kills 1,700 persons weekly – WHO

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Covid-19 is still killing around 1,700 people a week around the world, the World Health Organization said Thursday, as it urged at-risk populations to keep up with their vaccinations against the disease.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus sounded a warning on declining vaccine coverage.

Despite the continued death toll, “data show that vaccine coverage has declined among health workers and people over 60, which are two of the most at-risk groups,” the UN health agency’s chief told a press conference.

“WHO recommends that people in the highest-risk groups receive a Covid-19 vaccine within 12 months of their last dose.”

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More than seven million Covid deaths have been reported to the WHO, though the true toll of the pandemic is thought to be far higher.

Covid-19 also shredded economies and crippled health systems.

Tedros declared an end to COVID-19 as an international public health emergency in May 2023, more than three years on from when the virus was first detected in Wuhan, China, in late 2019.

The WHO has urged governments to maintain virus surveillance and sequencing and to ensure access to affordable and reliable tests, treatments, and vaccines.

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Federal Govt reveals what is likely going to aid spread of Cholera epidemic, warns public

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The Federal Government has issued a warning that the ongoing flooding and continuous rainfall could exacerbate the spread of cholera across the country.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Prof. Joseph Terlumum, the Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, highlighted the concerning situation. He reported that as of Wednesday, July 3, 2024, there have been 63 fatalities and 2,102 suspected cases since the start of the epidemic.

Terlumum attributed the recent flash floods to persistent heavy rainfall across various states and Abuja, the nation’s capital. He noted that these floods, predominantly affecting urban areas, were caused by intense rainfall and inadequate drainage systems.

He said, “We are calling on states and local government councils, to intensify and step up efforts to avert flood-related disasters in their domains as we approach the peak of the flooding season.

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“At the national, some states have started experiencing some level of flooding and its associated disaster as of April this year. So far, more than three states such as FCT have experienced high levels of flooding, with several casualties recorded, including displacement of people and loss of properties.”

The minister clarified that no water has been released from any dams, both within and outside Nigeria. Specifically regarding the Kainji and Jebba Dams on the River Niger, he confirmed that water remains stored in their reservoirs.

He also warned of impending river flooding expected to commence this month, affecting several states including Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Adamawa, Benue, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Jigawa, Kogi, Kebbi, Kaduna, Niger, Nasarawa, Ondo, Ogun, Rivers, Taraba, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

He said: “Clearing of blocked drainage systems and canals, replications of people living along waterways and states and local governments, are encouraged to desilt river channels and canals in their respective constituents, to collect runoff water is part of the recommendation file for flood motifs.”

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On Tuesday, Jide Idris, the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), provided an update on the cholera outbreak, confirming that the death toll had risen to 63 with 2,102 suspected cases reported.

He disclosed that cases had been identified in 122 Local Government Areas spanning 33 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

Idris highlighted that approximately 90 percent of the cases were concentrated in 10 states, predominantly in the southern region,”of the top 10 states contributing to 90 percent of the cases—Lagos, Bayelsa, Abia, Zamfara, Bauchi, Katsina, Cross River, Ebonyi, Rivers, and Delta—seven are located in the southern part of the country.”

He attributed the outbreak to the consumption of contaminated food and water, noting the challenges posed by open defecation practices. Despite these challenges, Idris expressed confidence in Nigeria’s ability to control further spread, emphasising the activation of the National Cholera Multi-Sectoral Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to coordinate a comprehensive response following a thorough risk assessment conducted by the agency earlier.

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He said: “In response to the rapidly increasing cholera cases, a dynamic risk assessment was conducted by subject matter experts on the cholera outbreak situation in Nigeria last week.

“The subject matter experts were drawn from relevant Ministries (Health, Environment, Agriculture, Water Resources, etc.), Departments, Agencies, stakeholders, and major partners. The outcome of the risk assessment placed the country at “High Risk” of increased risk of cholera transmission and impact.”

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