24th August, 2010
An outbreak of gastro-enteritis in seven local government areas in Gombe State has claimed 16 lives, according to Dr. Mohammad Umar, the Commissioner for Health.
He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Gombe on Monday that the local governments affected were Gombe, Yamaltu-Deba, Kaltungo, Billiri, Shongom, Balanga and Akko.
Umar said that in August alone, seven deaths and 233 cases were recorded in those areas.
“We have ensured that there are enough drugs in public hospitals for free treatment of such cases, just as our rapid response team is doing its best to handle the situation,” he added.
Umar said the ministry had also intensified its awareness campaign on how to prevent the spread of the disease.
He said that contaminated water and food were the commonest causes of the disease, and that hygiene played a prominent role in averting its spread.
The commissioner said laboratory test would further determine if the disease was actually cholera.
He declared: “We have yet to identify the micro-organism responsible for it, and cannot therefore conclude that it is cholera. I am more comfortable refering to it as gastro-enteritis.
“This is the general name for ailments of stooling and vomiting. It is necessary that people should report any suspected cases to the nearest Disease Surveillance Officer.”
Meanwhile, a WHO health officer in GombeÂ has observed that the heavy dependence on vegetables and fruits during the Ramadan was aiding the spread of the disease.