Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has reported an increasing number of cases of suspected Hepatitis E in Borno state. Borno is the state most ravaged by the Boko Haram insurgency which has caused tens of thousands of deaths there. Th e health agency, in its weekly epidemiological report for week 29 (July 17-23), showed that a total of 562 cases were reported in ten local government areas (LGAs) of the state. Th e LGAs are Mobbar, Munguno, Chibok, Askira Uba, Bayo, Dikwa, Gubio, Mafa and Maiduguri. Th e Federal Ministry of Health on June 18 had notifi ed WHO of an outbreak of the disease in the state.
Th e fi rst case was detected on May 3 in Damasak, at the border with the Republic of Niger, with subsequent cases reported in Ngala, one of the local government areas which border Cameroon. As at July 2, 146 confi rmed and suspected cases had been reported from three local government areas: Ngala (112), Mobbar (19), and Monguno (14). However, the newest report indicates that the disease is yet to be contained. About 84 per cent of the cases reported were from Ngala LGA, one of the fi rst local governments infected with the outbreak. According to NCDC, a total of 252 samples were collected for laboratory testing, of which 64 have been tested. 42 (64% per cent) of samples tested came out positive. Six deaths in unconfi rmed cases have been reported, giving a case fatality rate of 1.1 per cent. A total of 52 suspected cases were reported amongst pregnant women spread across the local governments, Ngala, Damask, and Munguno, with four deaths recorded. NCDC said the disease is associated with poor environmental hygiene practices and most times, outbreaks occur after heavy rainfalls which usually cause a disruption of public water supplies.
“Pregnant women are a susceptible population for Hepatitis E infection, particularly in their third trimester causing a severe form of the disease and leading to liver failure. “Surveillance for Hepatitis E infection can be done in line with Hepatitis A infection as a clinical manifestation of the two disease conditions is similar.” Signs and symptoms of the disease are usually non-specifi c-mild fever, reduced appetite, nausea and vomiting, jaundice abdominal pain, fatigue, skin itching, joint pains, dark urine and clay-colored stool. Meanwhile, NCDC said it has been working with the Borno state government, the WHO and other partners to support the response to the Hepatitis E outbreak. “It is important that ongoing control measures and strategies are sustained in the state even after the outbreak, given the peculiarity of the region.” It advised this should be geared towards providing safe and clean water supply, ensuring food hygiene practices and improvement of environmental hygiene practices. (Premium Times)