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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

As cholera ravages Lagos and other Nigerian states, here’s what you need to know

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Recently, the Nigerian government confirmed the outbreak of cholera in some parts of the country, including Lagos State.

However, laboratory investigations and test results conducted in Lagos have confirmed that the current outbreak is associated with the subtype of cholera known as serovars O1.

The strain of cholera identified, according to the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Akin Abayomi, is “highly aggressive and contagious, with the potential to generate widespread concerns”, aggravated by the rainy season.

Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Akin Abayomi

As of Sunday, data provided by Abayomi on his Instagram account revealed that the state had recorded 350 suspected cases in 29 districts across multiple local government areas (LGAs) with 17 confirmed cases of severe gastroenteritis caused by cholera.

Gastroenteritis, also known as the stomach flu, is an infection that causes inflammation in the stomach and intestines.

The number of cholera deaths in Lagos has increased from five reported on June 12 to 15 deaths attributed to severe dehydration. The breakdown of cases in Lagos gives a strong indication of the severity of the disease.

Cases recorded in Lagos


Meanwhile, there has been speculation on social media that contaminated tigernut drinks caused hospitalizations and deaths from cholera in Lagos.

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An X user, Kageosama, said: “My friend lost his mother and almost his sister this week, they took tigernuts, please be careful.”

Another user, Yosemite, posted: “My friend’s brother was hospitalized for cholera and his friend also died from cholera. “They both drank tigernut drink.”

Speaking to Newslodgeon Monday, an epidemiologist of the NCDC, Biodun Ogunniyi, who heads the Public Health Emergency Operations Center (EOC) activated in Lagos to address the cholera outbreak, said a case study has been initiated and controls to determine contributing factors and dispel speculation about tiger nuts.

NCDC Epidemiologist, Biodun Ogunniyi

“There is a need to conduct a case-control study and this is about to begin,” Ogunniyi said.

“This is an objective and scientific way to identify possible factors associated with the outbreak… so that people can stop speculation about tigernut drink and others.”

What is cholera?

Cholera is an acute diarrheal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacteria Vibrio cholerae.

People living in places with unsafe drinking water, poor sanitation and inadequate hygiene are at greatest risk of contracting cholera, as it is spread through direct transmission by eating or drinking contaminated food or water.

Cholera can cause severe diarrhea and dehydration, and can lead to death within hours if untreated. In addition to diarrhea, other symptoms include nausea/vomiting, dehydration, low blood pressure, rapid weight loss, and muscle cramps.

Each year, an estimated 1.3 to 4 million people worldwide contract cholera and between 21,000 and 143,000 people die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Nigerian Center for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) recently reported that Nigeria has recorded 65 confirmed cases of cholera with 30 deaths between January 1 and June 11 in 96 local governments in 30 states.

Types of anger

The WHO explains that there are many serogroups of Vibrio cholerae, but only two (O1 and O139) cause outbreaks, and notes that Vibrio cholerae O1 has caused all recent outbreaks.

“A serogroup refers to a group of serovars that share common antigens,” Ogunniyi said, adding that in the case of Vibrio cholerae, serogroup O1 includes two serovars: Ogawa and Inaba.

“Serovar, on the other hand, is a distinct variation within a species of bacteria or virus. Sometimes serovar and serotype are used interchangeably,” said the epidemiologist.

“In summary, serogroup is a broader classification that encompasses multiple serovars, and serovar is a more specific classification within a serogroup.”

Who is at risk?

According to the latest advisory from the NCDC, people of all ages living in places with limited access to clean water are more susceptible to cholera.

He noted that people who live in areas with poor sanitation and hygiene conditions, in slum areas where basic water or sanitation infrastructure is lacking, or who do not sanitize their hands are also at risk.

According to a World Bank report, more than 70 percent of Lagos residents live in informal settlements or slums, without access to basic services such as clean water and sanitation.

Case trends in Lagos


Cholera is easily treatable if detected early and infected people are mainly treated by administering oral rehydration solution (ORS).

ORS solution is a powder that can be reconstituted in boiled or bottled water.

In response to the outbreak, the Lagos health commissioner said the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, has collected samples of water sources and samples of food and beverages in all affected LGAs, while inspections are carried out of the facilities.

“We are pre-positioning anti-cholera kits in health centers across the state. Our efforts to control the outbreak also include the distribution of oral rehydration solutions (ORS) and public health education campaigns,” Abayomi said.


Cholera can generally be prevented by ensuring access to safe drinking water; proper sanitation and waste disposal; and proper hygiene, including hand washing.

To reduce the risk of cholera, the NCDC advised the public to “ensure that water is boiled and stored in a clean, covered container before drinking it, and practice good personal hand hygiene by washing your hands frequently with soap and water.” clean stream”.

Cholera prevention

“Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and clean water are not available. Make sure food is thoroughly cooked before eating. “Only eat raw foods, such as fruits and vegetables, after washing them thoroughly with drinking water.”

It also discouraged open defecation and indiscriminate dumping of garbage, and urged residents to ensure proper waste disposal and frequent cleaning of sewage.

The NCDC also advised healthcare workers to always practice standard safety precautions, including wearing gloves when handling patients or providing care to a sick patient or family member.

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