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Yellow Fever: Death toll hits 133 as disease spreads to more communities in Enugu

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Despite the fumigation of Ette, and Umuopu communities in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State  against yellow fever by the state government and the ongoing immunisation against the disease at some local government areas in the state, death toll has hit 133.

About 57 victims lost their lives in Ette, and Umuopu communities initially before both the federal and state governments flooded the areas with yellow fever vaccines.

In the last two weeks, health workers had been working round the clock to curtail the spread of the disease to other communities. However, reports indicated that 21 persons died of the disease in Isiugwu community within the last two weeks while about 10  died at Umuopu again on Tuesday, just as two others died on Wednesday.

Four persons died at Aji Community while several others reportedly died at Okpo, and Igogoro communities among other communities in the council area. Health officials were said to have been moved to Isiugwu community for mass vaccination when our reporters visited the council area for official comments on the issue.

However, a health officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that it takes about 10 days for the vaccines to start working on anybody, adding that those who had been vaccinated could still die if they were already infected before being vaccinated because of the period of time it takes for the vaccine to become effective.

He added that all together, the council area has lost at least 75 persons within the last two weeks. While reacting to the development, the council boss, Ejike Itodo said he has engaged relevant stakeholders for aggressive sensitisation and enlightenment of the people of the council area on the disease outbreak.

He further said that the residents of the affected communities are turning out en masse to be vaccinated. While urging the people to pray against the disease, he said he has also directed that anyone who presents any form of symptom be conveyed to the general hospital at the council headquarters for adequate medicare. It was gathered that a young pharmacist, Chidi Eze, were among the victims who died at Isiugwu community.

Some residents who spoke to Vanguard, including Chibueze Ogbu, and Onyemaechi Eke, expressed fear as the death toll keeps soaring. According to relations of some of the victims, the symptoms start with weakness of the body, pains, heaviness of the heart, before vomiting of blood, and eventual death. Recall that at least 27 cows also died mysteriously across some communities in the local government last week.

Meanwhile, all efforts to speak with the Enugu State Commissioner for Health, Dr Emmanuel Ikechukwu Obi, and the state’s Epidemiologist, Dr Chinyere Ezeudu, on the soaring death toll proved abortive as they neither picked calls put through to their phone lines nor responded to text messages.

Yellow Fever is caused by Flavivirus. It is an acute, systemic disease, meaning that it starts suddenly, and it affects the whole body. The virus is transmitted by mosquitos, mainly the Aedes and Haemogogus species.

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