Palpable fear has gripped Ute Okpu and Idumusa communities in Ika northeast council of Delta State following the outbreak of a mysterious disease which has claimed not less than 15 lives in the last two weeks.
The cause of the death is yet to be established though there is a suspicion of hemorrhagic fever or substance abuse with victims within the age bracket of 18 to 25 years.
The state government has however assured residents in the area that everything possible was being done to curb the disease.
Commissioner for Health, Dr Mordi Ononye gave the assurance on Sunday when he led a team of public health officials to Ute Okpu with a view to unravel the mysterious disease.
Speaking at the palace of the traditional ruler of the community, Dr Ononye said: “Delta State Government has received information on seemingly mysterious deaths in Ute Okpu and Idumesa communities of Ika North East Local Government Area of the state which prompted the governor, His Excellency, Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, to direct the State Ministry of Health to immediately investigate these deaths, identify the cause/causes and effect containment measures.”
He called on members of the community and residents of the state to observe good hygiene as the dry season approaches by properly covering their food, cutting grasses around their surroundings, eliminate rats in their houses and continue to observe the COVID-19 safety guidelines especially handwashing with soap and running water.
According to him, Gov Okowa has directed the Comprehensive Health Center in Ute-Okpu be upgraded to a full-fledged hospital.
On his part, Dr. Richard Ikwuogu, the State Epidemiologist said that his office sent officers to the community immediately the information reached the Ministry of Health, stating that the active case search that commenced the previous day continues.
He added that his team has visited the families of the affected persons in the community and also the case in the hospital in Umunede, collected their samples and interviewed them.
Dr. Ikwogu said that though a suspicion of viral hemorrhagic fever or substance abuse, the outcome of the test on collected samples will give clear information on the disease and that will determine the next line of action.