Saturday 29 September 2018

Almost 200 dead in Nigerian floods.

A total of 199 people have been reported dead in Nigeria after the Niger and Benue rivers burst their banks due to rains associated with an exceptionally severe rainy season, according to the National Emergency Management Agency. Ninety seven deaths have been reported in the states of Borno and Yobe in the northeast of the country, where a Cholera outbreak has infected over 3000 people. This outbreak has also hit the neighbouring nations of Niger, where 67 people have died and another 180 cases reported, as well as Cameroon and Chad. The flooding has made about 286 000 people homeless, mostly in southern Nigeria, as well as destroying large areas of crops and killing large amounts of livestock, raising the risk of future famine.

Flooding in Kara-Isheri, Ogun State, southwest Nigeria, on 20 Septmber 2018. Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP.

West Africa has a distinct two season climatic cycle, with a cool dry season during the northern winter when prevalent winds blow from the Sahara to the northeast, and a warm rainy season during the northern summer when prevalent winds blow from the Atlantic Ocean to the southwest. These warm winds from the Atlantic are laden with moisture, which can be lost rapidly when the air encounters cooler conditions, such as when it is pushed up to higher altitudes by the Jos Plateau of central Nigeria and Shebshi Mountains on the border with Cameroon.

 Rainfall and prevalent winds during the West African dry and rainy seasons. Encyclopedia Britanica.

Cholera is caused by the Bacterium Vibrio cholerae, a Gram-negative, comma-shaped Gammaproteobacteria, related to other pathogenic Bacteria such as Yersinia pestis (Bubonic Plague), and Esherchia coli (food poisoning). The Bacteria produce proteins which can cause watery diarrhoea, which helps spread the disease, and can prove fatal in severe cases, as patients are killed by extreme dehydration.

 SEM image of Vibrio cholerae Bacteria. Kim et al. (2000).

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