In its effort at containing the spread of the strange illness ravaging the Ode Irele community of the state, the Ondo state government has set up emergency task teams and a Situation Room to coordinate the response teams working from the frontlines.
The state Commissioner for Health, Dayo Adeyanju, said in a statement Friday that five emergency response task teams have been raised to handle different aspects of control mechanisms.
The task teams are:
1. Contact Tracing Committee – the committee is already tracing and establishing contacts with those already exposed to patients or dead bodies and monitoring them for possible manifestation of any of the symptoms.
2. Case Management Committee – this is made up of health personnel and volunteers already trained to attend to medical emergencies of this nature. They are to ensure safe and proper management of new and existing cases of the illness. They are required to also train health workers in Irele.
3. Laboratory/Forensic Committee – to establish the etiological/causative agent for the strange illness and ensure safe disposal of corpses.
4. Community Education & Mobilization Committee – intensify mass education and sensitization of the community and the state in a way that will not constitute public health hazard.
5. Print, Electronic & Social Media Sensitization Committee – to make progress report of unfolding developments available in a timely manner to the world to dispel rumours that may lead to widespread panic and fear.
Mr. Adeyanju added, “These and other measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of lives of our dear people of Irele. Let us continue to exercise calm and caution and eschew fear mongering as there is manifest evidence that the situation is being contained.
“In case of any suspected case, contact: WHO 08033720966, LGA DSNO – 08112524793 and the State Epidemiologist – 08062078384.”
Read our earlier story on the strange illness, published late Thursday, below,
The Ondo State Government is working hard to control a strange disease which suddenly broke out in the Ode-Irele community of Ondo state, leading to the death of no fewer than 28 people in the past three days.
Residents say the disease broke out three days ago and spread rapidly around the community, killing its victim within 24 hours.
The cause of the disease remained unknown.
Experts say preliminary reports from victims revealed neurologic clinical symptoms: blindness, and loss of consciousness.
Ebola Alert, an evidence-driven group of volunteer professionals who helped with the Ebola Virus Disease interventions in the country, said 28 people have died from the disease.
But the State Health Commissioner, Dayo Adeyanju, put the number of dead victims at 12.
Mr. Adeyanju, while briefing newsmen in Akure, said preliminary investigations showed that the disease is not Ebola “as it does not manifest any of its symptoms, but it attacks the central nervous system of the victims”.
He said the state government, after getting information on the disease, immediately deployed officials who took samples from victims which was sent to Lagos for laboratory analysis to help understand the nature of the disease.
Mr. Adeyanju, who warned against spreading false information on social media, said the government is on top of the situation, and advised people in the council area to report any strange illness to the nearest health facility.
He assured that the government is also doing its best to contain the disease from further spreading out of the town while those infected were being quarantined at the General Hospital, Irele, with other patients moved out of the facility.
The Health Commissioner also advised people of the area to avoid handling dead bodies at this period to help contain further spread of the disease.
A journalist who visited the affected community Thursday said he was told by residents that the ailment had spiritual undertone.
“Community leaders said some people broke into a shrine, and the god became angry with them, striking all those people who have hands in the act,” the journalist said, asking not to be named.
“Our team also saw people performing rituals in the community. They believe that the ritual will appease the god and that the disease will end.”
But the state’s Commissioner for Information, Kayode Akinmade, said he was not aware of any spiritual dimension to the development.
“All I can tell you is that medical experts are on ground, attending to victims and doing all the necessary tests. Government is working hard to contain the disease, and I can tell you that it is under control,” Mr. Akinmade told PREMIUM TIMES.
Ebola Alert later posted an update on its twitter handle on Thursday night saying the disease is under control and that its cause was being investigated.
The organisation said the Federal Ministry of Health, the World Health Organisation, and the National Centre for Disease Control had been alerted of the outbreak.