The African continent, due to its hot climate, high population density, and low standard of living is constantly under the WHO’s watch list because of the widespread of common diseases. Nigeria, as one of the most densely populated countries constantly struggles with such dangerous diseases as malaria, Ebola fever, Dengue fever, meningitis, tuberculosis, HIV, and others.
Сommon diseases in Nigeria
Based on data provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, malaria represents the greatest threat to Nigerians. Each year, the death rate from malaria is 20% of the total number of people who died due to common diseases.
The above-mentioned disease is caused by intracellular parasites – malaria plasmodia (4 species), the most dangerous of them leads to tropical malaria. Infection occurs as a result of a mosquito bite. The pathogen is contained in the mosquito’s saliva. The moment of infection to the first signs of the disease can be from a week to a month (tropical malaria) or several years (any other malaria). The symptom is usually fever, chills, headache, and weakness. For tropical malaria, a fatal outcome is possible without timely treatment.
How to avoid it? Protect yourself from mosquito bites: make sure your windows and doors fortified with nets, apply repellents and fumigate as often as possible. You can also take special anti malarial medicines. Thanks to the efforts made to eradicate this disease, the rate of new cases of malaria in Nigeria has decreased.
According to WHO’s data, in 2010 – 2015 the number of children affected by malaria dropped to 35%. The preventive measures have worked here. The use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets has increased over the past ten years. Almost 70% of households have at least one net.
Besides malaria in Nigeria, other infectious diseases transmitted by mosquitoes exist. There are Yellow fever and Dengue fever. Both fevers have lower mortality rates than malaria.
The Yellow fever is caused by the virus of the Flavivirus genus. It is carried by special tropical mosquitoes. When the mosquito bites a person, the virus penetrates the skin and settles in the lymph nodes. After 3-6 days, the viruses are released into the blood, and the person falls ill. He or she will have a fever, headache, and a reddish rash will appear on the body. In half the cases, it is impossible to save the patient.
How to avoid it? Getting a vaccination against Yellow fever is necessary. Once this is done, immunity to the disease can last ten years.
Dengue fever in Nigeria is an acute transmissible viral disease. Its symptoms are fever, lethargy, myalgia, arthralgia, rash, and enlarged lymph nodes. In some cases, Dengue fever develops into a hemorrhagic condition.
Although there is still no way to cure Dengue fever and no vaccine against it, it is not life-threatening. A tropical hemorrhagic fever may be fatal. It is an acute form a Dengue fever, causing severe bleeding and affects children and young people.
As for common skin diseases in Nigeria, allergic skin reactions (eczema, dermatitis), infectious skin diseases, follicular and pigmentary diseases are the most common among Nigerians.
Common communicable diseases in Nigeria
In Nigeria, respiratory diseases can come in form of pneumonia, for example, and lower respiratory tract infections. They rank second on the list of deaths as a result of illness.
Pneumonia develops, typically, as a complication from an acute respiratory viral infection.
This disease is detected by X-ray examination. Severe forms of pneumonia can lead to death. It is also especially dangerous for children.
Another deadly disease that is found in Africa, and in Nigeria is HIV. It is the abbreviated form of the human immunodeficiency virus. The virus causes damages to the immune system. When the virus enters the human body, it leads to AIDS after a while. AIDS is an incurable disease. To date, only effective supportive therapy has been developed. But it can only prolong a patient’s life. Therefore, the primary method of combating HIV / AIDS is a prevention of the infection altogether.
Dangerous common diseases in Nigeria include diarrhea diseases. Diarrhea is the second leading cause of death among children under the age of five.
Diarrhea can last several days and can make the body deficient in water and salt which is very necessary for survival. In the past, the main causes of death associated with diarrhea in most cases were dehydration and fluid loss. Currently, an increasing proportion of all deaths associated with diarrhea occurs in other causes, such as septic bacterial infections.
The measures to prevent diarrhea include providing safe drinking water, awareness of improved sanitation and washing of hands with soap to help to reduce the risk of the disease. Diarrhea is treated with oral rehydration salts (ORS) – a mixture of pure water, salt, and sugar.
Diarrhea is a symptom of infection caused by a wide range of bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Most of them are spread through contaminated water. Infections take place where there is a shortage of clean water for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene.
Nigeria is successfully fighting polio. Although in 2016 there was an outbreak of this dangerous disease, the vaccination has worked for the past ten years, and educational work has yielded positive results.
Regarding Ebola, Nigeria, together with the WHO, has managed to control and stop the infection from spreading in 2014.
Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a viral infection. Its primary attribute is massive internal and external bleeding (hemorrhages). One of Ebola symptoms is high fever.
There is no specific treatment for this disease. However, doctors can help the patient to fight infection with fluid infusions, oxygen masks, blood transfusions and medications for supporting blood pressure.
Meningitis and tuberculosis are very dangerous diseases if they are not treated in time. 5% of the total death as a result of various diseases in Nigeria is due to meningitis and tuberculosis.
Meningococcal meningitis is a bacterial form of meningitis. It’s a serious infection that affects the brain cell. It can lead to severe brain damage, and the absence of treatment in 50% of cases result in a fatal outcome.
Because the disease is easily transmitted in densely populated areas, in April 2017 in Nigeria, there was an outbreak of meningitis. It killed about 1000 people. Only mass vaccination can tackle this disease. The Government of Nigeria is doing everything possible to make vaccination more accessible.
As for tuberculosis, it usually affects the lungs, but sometimes, it affects other organs and systems. Mycobacterium tuberculosis is transmitted by airborne elements if you are having a conversation or at the proximity of a coughing and sneezing patient. Most often, after an infection with mycobacterium, the disease occurs in an asymptomatic, latent form (tubinfication). But approximately one in ten cases of latent infection eventually becomes active.
The classic symptoms of pulmonary tuberculosis are prolonged cough with sputum, sometimes with hemoptysis appearing at later stages, fever, weakness, night sweats, and significant weight loss.