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Lead poisioning kills 28 in Niger, says FG

Records 65 other cases

By Chris Ochayi

ABUJA—The Federal Government, yesterday, announced the outbreak of lead poisioning in some villages in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State, which has claimed 28 lives.

Minister of State for Health, Fiddles Nwankwo, who briefed newsmen over the incident in Abuja yesterday, noted that most of those affected were children below five years.

He further said that a technical team confirmed the outbreak of lead poisoning in the area.

Nwankwo linked the outbreak to some new-found illegal mining sites, which contained more leaded ores but were often brought home for crushing and processing.

Altogether, 65 cases have so far been recorded in the affected areas, but there were signs that it could spread to neighbouring localities in the area and Kaduna State.

Nwankwo said, however, that the poison was not contagious if the people were amenable to control and safer and healthier practices were observed.

He explained that the essence of the briefing was to raise awareness and solicit for the cooperation of the people.

According to him, “the rapid assessment by the National Centre for Disease Control and the federal and state ministries of health revealed that as at May 12, 65 cases and 28 deaths had occurred, giving a case fatality rate of 43 percent.

“All the 28 cases were children below the age of five, made up of 17 females and 11 males.

“Additionally, the finding revealed a serious impact on our livestock with cows, goats and chicken most affected.

“The purpose of this press briefing is to inform the press and fellow Nigerians of an outbreak of lead poisoning in some villages of Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State.

“And it is currently spreading to neighbouring localities in the state and Kaduna state.

“The affected children were found to have serum lead levels of about between 17 to 22 times higher than the acceptable limits established by the World Health Organization, WHO.”

Nwankwo then assured that government was working towards containing the outbreak, even as the palliative treatment of the sick children had started.


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