Health officers are reporting increasing cases of Hepatitis E in Borno State, North-east Nigeria.
The Nigerian Ministry of Health on June 18 had notified the World Health Organisation, WHO, of an outbreak of the disease in the state.
However, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control on its official Twitter handle on Thursday raised fears that there is an increase in the number of cases in the state over the last few weeks.
Previous tweets from the agency stated that as at June 23, its team was in Borno to support the state’s response to the disease.
However, there seems to be no break yet as the most recent tweet signifies that the number of cases is still on the rise.
“An NCDC Rapid Response Team has been in the state working with Borno government and WHO Nigeria and other partners to control the outbreak”, the agency tweeted.
The first case was detected on May 3 in Damasak, at the border with Republic of Niger, with subsequent cases reported in Ngala, one of the local government areas which border Cameroon .
As at 2 July, 146 confirmed and suspected cases had been reported from three local government areas: Ngala (112), Mobbar (19), and Monguno (14).
Out of the cases reported in Ngala, 25 were pregnant women with two death recorded. Ngala also had the highest number of cases with 29 reported from 19 June to 2 July 2017
Twenty-seven samples were shipped to the virology laboratory in Lagos for further diagnosis. Among the samples collected and tested, 21 tested positive (10 in Ngala, seven in Mobbar, four in Monguno) and six tested negative. Twenty-three samples are pending laboratory tests.
WHO on Wednesday in a publication on its website on diseases outbreak confirmed that it received notification of the disease from the Nigerian Government on June 18.
The international health agency in its risk assessment attributed the cause of the disease to the on going crisis in the region which has displaced over 1.9 million people, causing an intense movements of population coming from refugee camps or displaced populations in the areas bordering Chad and Niger.
WHO quoted International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and immigration officials as saying that the fresh wave of returnees from neighbouring countries is overwhelming the current humanitarian capacity, as the returnees began entering the town in January 2017.
Nigeria shares an international border with four countries, Chad and Cameroon in the east, Republic of the Niger to the north, and Republic of Benin on the west.
The areas of insecurity are located in north-eastern Nigeria bordering Republic of the Niger, Cameroon, and Chad and hepatitis E outbreak is taking place in this same area.
“There are also an increasing number of displaced persons moving back to the region post occupation and the potential cross-border contamination and subsequent increased risk of spread from Republic of the Niger and other neighbouring countries should be considered.
“There is overcrowding which is overwhelming the already weak systems in place. Lack of access to essential water, sanitation, hygiene, and health services may lead to propagation of this disease at a very rapid rate.”
The international health agency called for quick public health response with other donor partners in Nigeria and the federal government to nip the spread in the bud.
NCDC said in a tweet that Hepatitis E, Cholera, Lassa fever and Measles would be the major focus of its weekly national surveillance and outbreak review meeting held Thursday.