Death toll in the cholera outbreak in Bayelsa State increased to 23 on Tuesday as the epidemic claimed two more lives in Otuan, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state. Eight persons were killed by the epidemic at the weekend in Osiama and Ekede in Sagbama Local Government Area of the state. The epidemic began between Christmas Eve and early January when it ravaged Igbomotoru II, also in Southern Ijaw area, killing 13 persons.

Governor Seriake Dickson hails from Sagbama area while the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Konbowei Benson, is an indigene of Southern Ijaw. An official of Otuan community, who confirmed the death of the two victims, said they died in the wee hours of Tuesday, stressing that “several persons are down with the disease”. “Some persons brought (water) purifiers for us this afternoon but we hear that our neighbours, Enewari and Angiama communities, are also suffering from the cholera,” said the source, who pleaded for anonymity.

It was gathered that the increasing number of victims was causing anxiety in rural communities most of which do not have any functional health facility and potable water. A health officer, who did not want to be named, said the disease is caused by vibrio chlolerae bacterium through consumption of contaminated water and food which make victims vomit and stool frequently, resulting in death. “It is characterised by severe gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting and dehydration,” he explained.

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