Umar Muhammed, Lafia
No fewer than five people were said to have lost their lives to a disease suspected to be viral hepatitis, which broke out in Marhai community in the Wamba Local Government Area of Nasarawa State.
Investigation by our correspondent showed that blood samples of about 100 persons had been taken by officials to ascertain the cause of the illness.
Viral hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. According to doctors, the disease spreads in different ways, including through sex, sharing of needles and the consumption of unclean food. Our correspondent learnt that the disease broke out about two weeks ago.
One of the members of the community, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that quite a number of their people lost their lives to the illness.
“We don’t know where the illness emanated from. We are appealing to the state government to come to our aid because if this is not addressed immediately, it can spread to many communities in the state,” the source said.
It was gathered that the community informed the state ministry of health about the disease after many people, believed to be farmers, died.
However, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Daniel Iya, who confirmed the outbreak, said it was not certain that the victims died of viral hepatitis.
“We are trying to address the issue. So we did a study to find out how many people were affected in Marhai. Our officials were at the community to conduct a survey to establish the prevalent rate of viral hepatitis. It cannot be ascertained that the deaths were as a result of viral hepatitis, he added.
The state Director Public Health, Dr. Ibrahim Adamu, who also confirmed that there was an outbreak of an illness suspected to be viral hepatitis, however said that no life was lost in the community. He added that officials had been drafted to the area to investigate the development.
Adamu, who led the team of health personnel to the affected community, added that viral hepatitis could be contracted through blood contact or transfusion, sharing of sharp object and liver transplant, as well as exposure to infected blood or other body fluids.
He said, “I want to use this medium to create awareness and sensitise the people on the effective prevention of the disease, as well as to highlight some of the symptoms, such as fever, jaundice, weakness/ tiredness, nausea, dark urine and pain under the ribs of the right side.”
While appealing to the people of the community not to panic, he affirmed the state government’s commitment to provide measures to avert the spread of the infection.
The President of the Marhia Cultural Development Association of Kwara Electoral Ward, Mr. Lucky Yargwa, who also confirmed the spread of the disease, noted that many had died.
He, however, commended Governor Umaru Al-Makura and the leadership of the ministry of health for the prompt response to their request to conduct an investigation.
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