No fewer than 16 lives have reportedly been lost to an outbreak of yellow fever virus in Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
Several other victims were receiving treatment at the Virology Centre and Iboko General Hospital in the state as at the time of filing this report.
The virus had reportedly been ravaging the community since July before the information got to the state’s ministry of health which thereafter moved in to curtail further spread.
The Permanent Secretary in the state’s Ministry of Health, Dr. Chris Achi, confirmed the incident on Friday in a chat with journalists in Abakaliki.
He said the Federal Ministry of Health and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control had intervened in the matter. Achi blamed the death of the 16 persons on patronage of quacks and use of herbs to treat the outbreak.
He appealed to the people of the state to always access health facilities located in their areas. According to him, a specie of mosquito called AEDES transmits the virus to humans and it has three to six days incubation period in human body.
“Yes, that is why we appreciate the community giving early information to the authority especially when they notice that there is an unusual happening. We have always insisted that people should make use of our health facilities. In all the 171 political wards in Ebonyi State, we have health centres that will serve them.
“On July 16, somebody called me from one of the villages in Izzi Local Government Area saying that there was a way people were dying in the village and that he was suspecting that something might be wrong. I called health workers there who said no such case came to their clinic.
“I sent our rapid response team to visit the place, lo and behold, when they got there, it was a case of yellow fever but unfortunately, we had had about 16 deaths from the place. So we moved to the place and conducted case search. Those who already had the symptom, we moved to the health facility at Ndungele and when it was serious ,we moved some to the general hospital at Iboko and Virology Center here in Abakaliki.
“But the problem about the outbreak was that our people did not believe that they would have to go to hospital when they experienced yellowness of the eyes. They believed that they could be treated with local herbs and that’s why we recorded causalities which should not have been.” Achi said they state government notified federal ministry of health and Center For Disease Control immediately they knew about the outbreak.
“For the past two weeks, they have been in Ebonyi State to ensure control and they equally came with drugs and consignments.”We are equally doing much to ensure that it does not spread to the capital city. Yellow fever is not transmitted from human to human. It can only be transmitted through mosquito. There are forest monkeys that equally carry yellow fever virus and if mosquito bites the monkey and bites somebody in the forest it will pass the virus and if the mosquito bites another person, it will continue to transmit the virus.
That is the way the virus spreads. Yellow fever comes with fever, typhoid and if it is not detected on time, it will start draining the victim’s blood and the person will go into coma,” Achi explained.