Dead whale in Bayelsa State, eaters risks mercury poisoning

Dead whale in Bayelsa State, eaters risks mercury poisoning

As residents of Okpoama in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State reportedly butchered a dead whale for food, the state government has warned that consumption of dead whales could result in mercury poisoning.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Toyin Azebi, gave the warning on Thursday while addressing journalists after a meeting of the Bayelsa Taskforce on Immunisation and Health Services in Yenagoa.

The meeting was convened by the Deputy Governor, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, over the ongoing cholera outbreak in the country, according to a statement by his media aide, Doubara Atasi.

It is the second time in recent times that a whale has been washed ashore at Okpoama and just as in 2019, the residents butchered it with hacksaws, axes, and machetes.

Azebi pointed out that the consumption of dead whales could also lead to botulism and bacterial infections, which might be dangerous to the health of the people.

Meanwhile, the state government has faulted the inclusion of Bayelsa State on the list of states affected by the cholera epidemic outbreak as recently published by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control in its disease surveillance report.

Azebi said there was no confirmed outbreak of cholera in the state in recent times, noting that the NCDC’s pronouncement of a cholera outbreak in the state was a total misrepresentation and should be discountenanced.

She emphasised that all suspected 449 cases of cholera in the state from January to date had turned out negative from clinical laboratory tests, as they were proven to be cases of gastrointestinal diarrhoea.

According to her, the ministry had reached out to the NCDC on the issue, and they had reviewed the state data again and found out that their initial report was incorrect and agreed to issue a rebuttal.

She said: “The NCDC report is a gross misrepresentation of the Bayelsa data, and we have tackled them on it. They have reviewed our data with us and will soon do another pronouncement excluding us as a state with a cholera outbreak.

“Since January 2024, there have been 449 suspected cases of cholera reported across the eight LGAs. Importantly, only two new suspected cases were reported in the most recent week, indicating no new cases. We can even report these cases of watery diarrhoea because of our optimized surveillance system across the state.

“Extensive testing has been conducted to confirm cholera cases. Out of 42 Rapid Diagnostic Tests carried out, only 14 returned positive. Crucially, all 14 positives from the Rapid Diagnostic tests turned out negative when subjected to culture test.

“Culture tests are the gold standard for cholera diagnosis, and no cases have been confirmed by this method. And this attests to no outbreak.

“In summary, the cholera situation in Bayelsa State is under control with no confirmed positive case. The state government is taking active and comprehensive steps to manage the situation effectively, ensuring public health and safety”.