Lagos - The Lagos State Government on Monday confirmed that measles was responsible for the death of no fewer than 20 children in Otodo-Gbame community in Ikate, Lekki area of Lagos State.
The state Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, confirmed the development at a news conference in Lagos.
According to him, results of the laboratory investigations have confirmed that measles virus is the cause of the epidemic of the Febrile Rash Illness (FRI) as the condition was initially described.
"All the five blood samples taken to the Central Public Health Laboratory, Yaba, tested positive for IgM, a blood marker for recent infection with measles virus.
"In addition, four throat swabs and one blood sample investigated at the Virology Reference Laboratory, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), indicated the presence of measles virus through Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technique," he said.
Idris said that children from the affected community had missed out during the previous measles immunisation.
"This is due to mass emigration to Lagos from neighbouring states; several new communities had emerged and settled in some rural far-to-reach areas in the state.
"This is without the knowledge of the state government and because the areas are unplanned, there may not be proper potable water supply for drinking and toilet facilities for urination and defecation.
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"Besides, there are several cases of open defecation in the area and the only source of drinking water was contaminated with bacteria, resulting in both infection and spread of diseases.
"However, during the last measles vaccination that took place nationwide, children in that area were later covered and appropriately immunised," he said.
The commissioner said that all 34 cases line listed and managed by the government health workers had fully recovered.
He said, however, that intensive surveillance and community sensitisation would continue.
"The state government is conducting mapping of all slum areas in the state toward reducing the health hazards associated with such areas.
"All citizens should continue to practise health promotion and disease prevention measures including basic environmental sanitation, proper disposal of refuse and avoiding open defecation.
"Practise regular hand washing with soap; all pregnant women should attend antenatal care, while all children should be immunised against deadly vaccine-preventable childhood diseases," he said.
The disease, which broke out in January 2016, had led to panic in the community.
The affected children, after contracting the ailment, developed rashes and died two or three days after.