The Commissioner for Health in Anambra, Dr Vincent Okpala, says Typhoid fever in Nigeria is not as common as it has been made to be.
Okpala told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Awka on Monday that the Widal test used in the country to diagnose Typhoid fever would not give accurate diagnosis for the fever.
He described Typhoid fever as a life-threatening systemic infection caused by the bacterium, Salmonella typhi.
He explained that “seriously, nobody in Nigeria had or have Typhoid. If you have 101 patients claiming to have Typhoid or are being told at the hospital that they have the fever, I tell you there is zero or no patient suffering from Typhoid out of the 101 patients.
“Typhoid fever is not as common as they make it to be. The standard tests for Typhoid are the stool and urine culture but these tests are not done here in Nigeria.
“Most hospitals here conduct Widal test; while it is easy and low cost to administer, it is not reliable in the diagnosis of Typhoid fever.
“And this has most likely led to a large number of patients being misdiagnosed and treated for a disease they never had.”
Dr Okpala said that the standard test – stool and urine culture, were not usually done in Nigeria due to the lack of efficient laboratories,
delay in producing results, patient’s inability to pay for the tests and physicians’ poor knowledge.
He said there was need for renewed scrutiny and adherence to diagnosis guidelines by healthcare practitioners in the country, lamenting
that “malaria and Typhoid have become common terms adopted by many Nigerians.”
According to him, there is need for increased awareness to break the cycle of misconception.