A Kaduna-based environmental scientist, Suleiman Zubair Abdullahi, has revealed that there is so much proliferation of “Dengue Fever” in northern Nigeria and some parts of the southwest, which is always mistaken to be ordinary malaria.
In an interview with Africa Prime News, the environmental scientist said research has revealed that, Dengue Fever is caused by a special mosquito commonly found in Asia, but the change in climate has resulted to the scourge in Nigeria.
He pointed out that, “Before now, we don’t have Dengue Fever in Nigeria, but ordinary malaria. Now people are losing their lives more from malaria than before.
“It started emanating as a result of climate change, because it was not experienced before. As it is now, there is so much proliferation all over the north and, even in the south-western Nigeria, where the issue of typhoid and malaria is high. They are not just ordinary malaria.
“Dengue Fever can easily kill within the shortest period. If you notice the mosquitoes these days, they are not the type we used to have in the last ten years; they are black mosquitoes not as big as the ones we had; they are terribly dangerous,” he noted.
The chief Medical Director of Graceland Hospital, Dr. Thot Joseph, explained that Dengue Fever is a kind of fever caused by a virus called Dengue virus, which is usually transmitted via a mosquito called Aedes Aegypti with incubation period of between 3-15 days. It is also known as Dengue Hemorrhagic,” he said.
According to him, this virus presents something very similar to Malaria and something like Ebola, noting that, the disease is spread from one human to another via these mosquitoes, with the environment playing a great role in its spread.
He said the factors that aid in the spread and growth of the disease are similar to that of Malaria, which include waterlogged area, broken pots/tyres, poor drainage, stagnant water and bushy areas.
“Its symptoms include fever, general body pain (myalgia), bleeding from orifices (all openings in the body like the nose, anus, mouth). It is being diagnosed in the laboratory. The treatment for all viral diseases is given as supportive treatment for Dengue Fever patient because there is no direct treatment for the fever,” he added.
On proliferation of the disease in Nigeria, Dr. Joseph said, the disease was commonly found in the Caribbean and Asia, which they have incorporated into their child disease; but in Nigeria, there is more of malaria but the Mosquitoes that spread the disease are present in the country.
While making reference to a mistaken identity on a patient, in 2015, when he was Kaduna state Health Commissioner, Abdullahi said, “For instance, there was a case in 2015 where someone was suspected of having Ebola but after virology test diagnoses and asking where he came from, we discovered it was Dengue Fever,” he said.
“So, the issue of climate change and global warming as well as lots of movement around the world (migration) makes it easier for the spread of the disease. So, if an individual is infected, the first question to ask is where the person is coming from so as to know the source.”
While calling on medical personnel to always have a high index of every disease and not zero everything to malaria, he called on Nigerians not to restrict any sign of fever to ordinary fever, especially whenever they feel those symptoms, urging them to always take care of their environment and ensure there is no stagnant water and pile rubbish around them; while government should occasionally fumigate the environment, in order to destroy the mosquitoes’ parasite.
The first isolated case of Dengue in Nigeria was in the 1960s; and only few other cases have been reported with most cases often undiagnosed, misdiagnosed as malaria or referred to as just ‘fever’ of unknown cause due to lack of awareness by health care providers and poor surveillance by public health officers.