Unidentified disease hits 41 children in Nigeria

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Health authorities in the FCT have declared a public health emergency in the settlement of Unguwar Hausawa, a slum neighbourhood of Abuja Municipal Area Council following death of nine children of a yet unidentified disease.

At least 32 other children in the community of Damagaza are hospitalized with the same illness.

The World Health Organization, FCT public health department and the FCT Primary Health Care Development Board at the weekend set up camp in the community to test, treat and vaccinate children exposed.

The first case of the disease was a girl aged seven years and passed away on June 15.

Another eight children have died since the first case was reported, bringing the total number of infections to 41.

All had diarrhoea and fever; their stool was mucous and greenish, their abdomen were distended said executive secretary of FCT Primary Health Development Board, Dr. Rilwanu Mohammed.

Initial diagnosis has shown the infection to be food poisoning or gastroenteritis, caused by contaminated water or food.

The environment surrounding Damagaza has been described as dirty with poor hygiene.

Mohammed added that the disease could be a result of contamination of water. Residents of the community depend on stream and wells for water.

But Mohammed said stool samples had been taken to Asokoro and Maitama district hospitals and Ibadan for definitive diagnosis.

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