About 300 students of the Federal Government Girls’ College in Efon Alaaye, Ekiti State, have been infected with an outbreak of a disease suspected to be cholera.
Although some of the students affected were treated and discharged, a good number were still undergoing treatment in the hospital.
There were reports that parents had started rushing to retrieve their wards from the school as news of the epidemic became widespread on Thursday.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that signs were noticed on October 10, when some students showed symptoms of the infection.
Although the school principal, Grace Ogunyomi, reported the matter to the state government, no immediate action beyond the routine medical attention was provided.
It was gathered that the students were infected in small numbers, but the matter escalated on Wednesday, resulting in government action, after the principal, Mrs. Ogunyomi, made a formal report.
Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, immediately directed the Commissioner for Health, Dr Olurotimi Ojo, to deploy professionals and drugs to help in stemming the spread of the disease.
The commissioner, however, denied that it was a cholera epidemic, saying it was a gastrointestinal infection popularly called diarrhea.
There were fears that the outbreak resulted from the contamination of the students’ food and water, but a teacher in the school, who spoke to journalists but would not want to be quoted, said further investigation revealed otherwise.
“What we felt was that, we thought their food and water were infected, but we later gathered that it was not from that source,” she said.
The Permanent Secretary at the state Ministry of Health, Folakemi Olomojobi, who confirmed the incident, said about 300 students were affected.
He said majority of the affected student had been treated and discharged, while only 20 of them were still being treated at the hospital.
Ms. Ojo said the Ministry of Health had brought in environmental health officials, while many professionals were still being deployed to forestall further spread.
“We alerted the water corporation to chlorinate their water. They have about six boreholes and we have got them chlorinated, because we knew as professionals that the water could be a source,” he said.
“We are trying to look into their environment, so that we can get where such could have broken out. We want to know how they dump their faeces and how they dump their sewage.
“We have taken the blood samples of students infected to the hospital and preliminary test shows that it was not cholera. It was diarrhea and vomiting. We are sending the samples for further test to confirm that it was not cholera.”
She urged members of the public not to panic, saying government would take every decisive action to put the situation under control.