By Prudence Arobani
Cholera has claimed no fewer than 23 deaths and 530 suspected cases in Borno, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Thursday .
The UN agency added in a statement that a cholera outbreak was first reported by the state’s Ministry of Health, adding that the first case was recorded on Aug. 16, 2017.
“Over 530 suspected cases had been registered as of Sept. 5, 2017, including 23 deaths (4.3 per cent fatality rate).
“The outbreak is mainly in Muna Garage, a camp hosting at least 20,000 internally displaced persons on the outskirts of the state capital, Maiduguri.
“Although most cases have been identified in Muna Garage camp, others have been identified in Custom House, Ruwan Zafi and Bolori II, all camps located near Muna Garage.
“There have also been reports of a suspected cholera outbreak in Monguno and Dikwa Local Government Areas, northeast and east of Maiduguri, respectively,” OCHA said.
The latest figures suggested a 4.3 per cent fatality rate – well above the one per cent rate that the World Health Organization rates as an emergency.
The short incubation period of two hours to five days means the disease could spread with explosive speed.
However, the State Ministry of Health, the Rural Water and Sanitation Agency and humanitarian organisations, including UN agencies, are responding to the outbreak, OCHA said.
The UN agency added that an Emergency Operational Centre had been set up to manage the response.
The state’s Ministry of Health has established one 30-bed Cholera Treatment Centre with the support of humanitarian partners in Muna Garage camp.
OCHA said two Oral Rehydration Points had been set up in Muna Garage while health organisations were also carrying out risk communications, including making regular and frequent visits to households to encourage individuals with cholera-like symptoms to be screened.
“By communicating at household level in this way, health partners have visited more than 1,300 households which resulted in the identification of 53 suspected cases of cholera.
“Hygiene promoters have carried out door to door hygiene sensitization and have distributed chlorination tablets.
“In addition, special interventions are being undertaken to prevent spread of cholera in the markets where people buy food.
“Humanitarian organisations have also repaired water points, distributed hygiene kits, carried out the water chlorination of water points and pumping units, and completed disinfection spraying of shelters and latrines,” the office said.
OCHA stated that additional activities included soap distribution, and testing for Free Residual Chlorine at household level, while humanitarian organisations are working to dislodge latrines and repair damaged toilets as part of sanitation efforts.
OCHA said in Dikwa, about 80 kilometres from Maiduguri, there were also suspicions of a cholera outbreak.
“A total of 103 suspected cholera cases (including 17 confirmed through the rapid cholera screening test) had been reported in Dikwa’s General Hospital, as of Sept. 5, 2017.
“Although an outbreak has not yet been declared officially, humanitarian partners have started taking the appropriate actions.
The UN agency said a Cholera Treatment Centre had been set up in the hospital while an Oral Rehydration Point would be set up in coming days.
OCHA said humanitarian partners were working to dislodge latrines, drain flooded locations in the area, distribute aqua tabs and chlorinate water sources, latrines and other infection-prone sites in the area. (NAN)