The ailment is called gastroenteritis and it is the name for the inflammation of the stomach and intestines. 

Gastroenteritis is a bacterial or viral infection which causes vomiting and diarrhoea.

Its symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain. 

Symptoms may also include feverishness, a lack of energy and dehydration.

Dr Akin Abayomi is Commissioner for Health in Lagos (Nigerian Health blog)
“Patients with gastroenteritis come down with severe acute watery diarrhea and profuse vomiting. Those infected with micro-organisms causing the disease show signs and symptoms within 12 hours to one week after ingesting contaminated food or water. The disease affects both children and adults and can kill within hours if untreated,” Abayomi says.

What causes gastroenteritis?
Poor hygiene, eating contaminated food and drinking contaminated water are causal factors, like Abayomi pointed earlier. 

The micro-organisms that cause gastroenteritis are the same ones that cause typhoid fever, cholera and certain viral diseases.

Consuming uncooked seafood, unwashed fruits and vegetables or shellfish from estuarine waters, can also leave you prone to gastroenteritis infection. 

What could have caused the Lagos epidemic?
The rains contributed significantly. 

It’s been raining without let in Lagos and flood water has become part of everyone’s life in the nation’s commercial capital. That flood water comes laden with all kinds of harmful micro-organisms from waste, faeces and urine.

Residents trudge in flood water in Lagos (Illustrative. Punch)
When residents swim in all of this infested water and enter homes or consume food without thoroughly washing their hands or bodies, they leave themselves open to intestinal infections.

When food vendors prepare dishes or wash utensils or cutlery with contaminated water, they help spread the disease.

Abayomi also states that the increase in the number of cases of gastroenteritis is not unconnected to the persistent rainfall in Lagos and the attendant flooding.

What is the Lagos government doing to curb spread?
The health commissioner says “following the report of these cases, Rapid Response Teams at the affected LGAs led by the Medical Officers of Health were activated, stool specimen were collected for laboratory test to confirm the micro-organism causing the vomiting and diarrhea while surveillance have also been scaled up in communities within the affected LGAs to stop the spread of the infection. 

“The results of laboratory tests will be published once the source pathogen is identified.”

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu visits the scene of the fire incident at Balogun Market on Lagos Island. [Twitter/@jidesanwoolu]
Some of the worst hit local governments are Lagos Island, Ajeromi, Apapa, Mushin and Ikeja.

Of the 117 reported cases of gastroenteritis reported so far, 109 have been treated and discharged, the commissioner discloses. 

The Lagos state government is also sensitizing members of the public about the disease, while harping on personal hygiene and environmental sanitation.

How can you avoid contracting gastroenteritis?
By eating well cooked meals, washing your hands thoroughly, avoiding roadside eateries and drinking clean or safe water. 

Abayomi advises that you wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating; cook food thoroughly; dispose waste material properly, avoid open and indiscriminate defecation and keep water containers clean. 

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