By Ikechukwu Odu, Nsukka
At least 57 persons have died at Ette and Umuopu communities in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State following the outbreak of a strange disease in the affected communities.
According to the Disease Surveillance and Notification Officer in the council area, Vincent Oshomi, the cause of the strange deaths is not yet known. However, he said that the Enugu State Ministry of Health has been alerted and specimen of the affected persons in the communities collected for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Oshomi also informed Vanguard on Thursday that the disease broke out at Ette at the beginning of September 2020, and spread to the border community of Umuopu, where 20 persons have died, including four casualties recorded yesterday.
He further explained that the victims presented symptoms such as convulsion, diarrhoea before vomiting blood, adding that they are suspecting Lassa fever or cholera.
He also said “Between September and now, at least 37 persons have died at Ette community. Also, Umuopu community, which shares a common border with Ette have recorded 20 deaths, four of which happened yesterday. It has been a strange development.
“I have officially informed the state’s Ministry of Health and investigations are currently ongoing to unravel the cause of the deaths. We have collected samples of affected persons and we are looking out for Lassa fever, cholera, yellow fever and meningitis. Coronavirus test will equally start in the affected communities today.
“The state’s Ministry of Health has brought an ambulance we are using to convey the sick ones to Enugu for proper diagnosis and treatment.”
While reacting to the development, the chairman of the local government area, Ejike Itodo, who said he was on top of the situation, added that he would convene a meeting of stakeholders today (Thursday), to begin thorough enlightenment about the strange disease.
While assuring the affected communities that the situation would be put under control, he said that the state’s Ministry of Health and other health workers in the council area are working assiduously to ensure that more casualties will not be recorded.
According to the Public Relations Officer, PRO, of the local government area, Comrade Mabel Ogili, a 30-year-old student of the University of Nigeria Nsukka, Chinedu Oyiga, 40-year-old Emeka Elugwu Onu, and 47-year-old Simon Eze were among the 20 casualties at Umuopu community.
Meanwhile, all efforts to speak with the state’s Commissioner for Health, Dr Emmanuel Obi, on the development, proved abortive as he neither responded to phone calls nor text message put through to his phone line at the time of filing this report.