It has been confirmed on Wednesday, May 13, 2015 by the Federal Government of Nigeria that 27 children state have been killed in a fresh outbreak of lead-poisoning from an illegal mining in Niger State.
Fidelis Nwankwo, the Minister of State for Health stated this in a press briefing on Wednesday, May 13, 2015 in Abuja.
The deadly disease which Nwankwo disclosed is not contagious has already claimed 63 cases of the outbreak while many animals in affected communities had died.
According to the Director of Port Health in the ministry, Dr Nasir Sani Gwarzo who had led the Federal Government’s team to the areas confirmed that, Shikira, Magiro ward and Kawo are the communities affected all in Rafi Local Government.
He further mentioned that the outbreak was deadlier than the one which broke out in Zamfara in 2011 where 400 people were confirmed dead.
Gwarzo urged the public not to have excessive fear over the outbreak rather they should take all precautionary measures against its spread.
The Ministry of Health had earlier received complaints about the deadly epidermic on Thursday, May 7, 2015 and had swung into preventive action.
Nwankwo stated that,“The lead poisoning was confirmed and it is confirmed that most of the people affected are children below the age of five years. The affected children were found to have high serum lead levels of between 171.5 – 224ug Pb/dl (normal is less than 10ug Pb/dl). That means, 17-22 times higher than the acceptable limits, as established by the World Health Organization.
“The rapid assessment by the NCDC/FMOH/MMSD revealed that as at May 12, 2015, 65 cases and 27 deaths had occurred, giving a case fatality rate of 43 percent. All the 27 cases were children below the age of five made up of 17 females and 11 males.
“Additionally, the finding revealed a serious impact on our livestock with cows, goats and chickens most affected. The devastating impact of this outbreak is associated with new mining sites which were found to contain more leaded ores which are often brought home for crushing and processing.”
Nwankwo explained further that the government had commenced the process of establishing incident command structure to enhance routine coordination of the outbreak response.
Besides, the minister said government was already mobilizing health facilities in Nigeria and Zamfara State to commence action.
He ordered that all laws affecting mining in the country should be respected while illegal mining should stop in the state.