The Delta State Coordinator of the World Health Organisation, Dr Bassey Bassey, has said flooding in some parts of the country may have contributed to the monkeypox outbreak.
Bassey said this in Abuja on Thursday at a one-day colloquium organised by the Association of Medical Scientists of Nigeria, FCT branch.
Speaking on the theme, ‘Perennial flooding in Nigeria: Communicable diseases and looming antimicrobial resistance’, the WHO coordinator said floodwater was a major source of infectious communicable diseases because animals defecate in floodwater, which humans come in contact with. Bassey, who was represented by Dr Casmir Ifeanyi, said, “Flooding is known to facilitate infectious disease transmission. It is no longer in doubt. Therefore, that will expose affected communities to outbreak of epidemics, zootomic and other epizootic effects such as cholera and of course we have had reported cases of cholera this year.
“Until proved otherwise, I think that flooding has a role in this sudden outbreak. This has been here before and it was never a problem but these things are now becoming dislodged from their normal habitat and moving towards us (humans).
“So, when flooding happens, this is what you see. For floods that last for seven days, expect waterborne diseases. Those lasting for one to four weeks, expect rodent-borne diseases. And the floods exceeding four weeks, you will have a combination of all.”
The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control also stated that flooding had led to an increase in microbial resistance.
The National Coordinator of the NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, who was represented by Dr Adedeji Adebayo, said floodwater had become the major source of infectious diseases.
He added, “Floodwater can be a source of disease outbreak through contamination with sewage water, human waste, animal waste, animal dead bodies, soil pathogens, deadly particles and chemicals.
“And floodwater can also be a vector-breeding site and venomous animals like snakes. Floodwater can contain disease-causing bacteria, viruses and parasites. Floodwater can become contaminated with agricultural waste, chemicals, raw sewage and other pollutants.”
He identified some of the flood-prone areas as states within Rivers Benue and Niger and the coastal areas of Akwa Ibom, Adamawa, Bayelsa, Cross River, Jigawa, Kaduna and Lagos.
Ihekweazu said animals were usually treated with antibiotics and when humans eat them, they sometimes become resistant to the antibiotics, thereby leading to the spread of infectious diseases.
Meanwhile, the Delta State Government on Thursday confirmed that the blood samples of patients suspected to be infected with monkeypox had been sent to the WHO laboratory in Dakar for analysis.
The state Commissioner for Health, Dr Nicholas Azinge, made the confirmation during a visit to the Federal Medical Centre, Asaba and General Hospital, Owa-Alero, Ika North East Local Government Area of the state for inspection.
Azinge stated that five cases were reported at FMC Asaba, four from Ogwashi-Uku, Aniocha South Local Government Area while one was from Ibusa, Oshimili North LGA.
In another development, the Nigerian Army has said it will soon arrest persons accusing soldiers of vaccinating school pupils with monkeypox in the South-East and South-South regions.
The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.- Gen Sani Usman, who gave the indication on Thursday, said security agencies were investigating to uncover the sources of the rumour.
Usman spoke in an interview on the Africa Independent Television, monitored by our correspondent.
It will be recalled that fears gripped residents of Rivers, Ondo and Delta states on Monday and Tuesday over an allegation that soldiers were going to schools to inject pupils with the monkeypox disease.
Usman said, “The person that started that unfortunate rumour and other persons with him will be apprehended and prosecuted. This will be done using the relevant provisions of the law.
“We have been giving school books, sinking boreholes in communities, and there is no cry. We are also Nigerians and we know where the problems of each community lie.”
Also, the acting Commander, the Nigerian Army Medical Corps, Brig.- Gen. Clifford Wanda, during the interview, said, “The military hospitals have all specialists ranging from doctors, nurses to laboratory scientists. Most of our patients are civilians.
“We cannot embark on any medical outreach without getting the appropriate approval from the necessary authorities. Anyone who comes out to say something otherwise is a mischief -maker.