By OKUNADE ADEKUNLE
Lagos State Government has reiterated the need for citizens to maintain high personal and environmental hygiene standards at all times as part of the measures to prevent an outbreak of an epidemic, especially the spread of gastroenteritis also known as vomiting and diarrhoea which has been reported in the State.
Reviewing the situation report on identified cases in the State, the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi disclosed that 117 cases of the disease had been diagnosed at health facilities in five local government areas.
He said, “Following the report of these cases, Rapid Response Teams at the affected LGAs, led by the Medical Officers of Health were activated, stool specimens were collected for laboratory tests to confirm the micro-organism causing the vomiting and diarrhoea, while surveillance have also been scaled up in communities within the affected LGAs to stop the spread of the infection. The results of laboratory tests will be published once the source pathogen is identified”.
He listed the local government areas where cases have been reported as Lagos Island, Ajeromi, Apapa, Mushin and Ikeja, revealing that out of the 117 cases reported, 109 patients have been treated and discharged.
The Commissioner explained that Gastroenteritis is caused by micro-organisms similar to those that generate typhoid fever, cholera and certain viruses, adding that the ailment can be contacted through consumption of contaminated liquids or foods such as uncooked seafood or shellfish from estuarine waters.
“Patients with gastroenteritis present with severe acute watery diarrhoea and profuse vomiting. Those infected with micro-organisms causing the disease display signs and symptoms within 12 hours to one week after ingesting contaminated food or water. The disease affects both children and adults and can kill within hours if untreated”, he said.
Abayomi outlined hygienic measures that reduce the risk of contracting the infection such as frequent and thorough washing of hands with soap and water as well as boiling of water before drinking whenever the source is unfiltered.
He also advised that citizens must wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating; cook food thoroughly; dispose of waste material properly, avoid open and indiscriminate defecation and keep water containers clean to prevent and curtail the spread of diseases.
“Citizens must ensure proper disposal of waste and ensure they avoid possible backflow connection between the water and sewer system. It is important that citizens wash hands with soap and running water thoroughly, especially after defecation, before eating or food preparation and when they have been in contact with a sick person or touch any item or surface that may have been contaminated”, he said.
The Commissioner, therefore, advised health workers to ensure that universal safety precautions are observed when dealing with patients, requesting that reports of any alarming increase in cases of gastroenteritis should be made to the Medical Officer of Health in the affected Local Government or the Directorate of Disease Control through telephone numbers 08023169485 and 08023608195.