Prevailing Endemic Diseases in Nigeria

Endemic Diseases in Nigeria
Endemic Diseases in Nigeria

An endemic disease is a disease with high prevalence in a certain region or area over a long period of time. There are quite a few endemic diseases in Nigeria, that are still present and widespread.

There are two types of endemic diseases. 

Holoendemic Diseases endemic diseases that primarily affect children and younger kids.

Hyperendemic Diseases – endemic diseases that affect all age groups equally.

This article aims to reveal to you some of the common endemic diseases in Nigeria, their symptoms, causes, risk factors, and preventive measures you can take.

Endemic Diseases in Nigeria
Endemic Diseases in Nigeria

1. Malaria

Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease rated as one of the leading causes of death in Nigeria.

According to the World Health Organization [WHO], over 250,000 pregnant women and children under 5 years die every year from malaria in Nigeria while the Center for Disease Control and Prevention also revealed that the death rate from malaria is estimated to be about 20%. [1]


Some of the symptoms you will experience if you have malaria include – Headache, abnormal or high temperature, fatigue, fever, chills, weakness, bitter taste, vomiting, lethargy, among others.

In pregnant women, malaria may lead to miscarriages, stillbirths, loss of baby weight etc. 


Malaria is caused by the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito. Once the mosquito bites you, it will release malaria-causing Plasmodium parasite into your bloodstream.

Within the first 72 hours of the attack, you will begin to experience some of the aforementioned symptoms, including fever, headaches, vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, among others.

Note: Malaria, if not well treated, can result in coma or even death, in serious cases. Therefore, go for treatment as soon as you are diagnosed with it.


  • Pregnant women 
  • Children below age 5
  • People with weaker immune systems.


Here are some useful preventive measures for malaria:

  • Keep your gutters and drainage clean always.
  • Get rid of swamps and stagnant dirty water around your house.
  • Always cut the grass around your house.
  • Always sleep under treated insecticide-treated nets, and wash properly as and when due.
  • Spray your room with quality insecticides 
  • Fortify your windows and doors with nets to block mosquitoes from entering.
  • Apply repellents and fumigate as often as you possibly can.
  • Take special antimalarial medicines. 


In case you are diagnosed with malaria, never practice self-medication or use substandard/fake antimalarial drugs. You might expose yourself to serious complications if you do so.


Human Immunodeficiency Virus [HIV] is yet another common endemic disease in Nigeria.

One thing about this infection is that it weakens the immune system and makes its victim more susceptible to a number of serious diseases and infections, including chronic pneumonia, tuberculosis, candidiasis, isosporiasis, toxoplasmosis, cryptosporidiosis, to name but a few.

With over 1.9 million (1.5%) people living with HIV, Nigeria is rated among the countries with the highest HIV prevalence in the world.  [2]

Furthermore, below is a percentage of the population, with HIV prevalence in various geopolitical zones in Nigeria:

  • South South (3.1 percent)
  • North Central (2.0 percent)
  • South East (1.9 percent)
  • South West (1.1 percent)
  • North East (1. 1 percent) 
  • North West (0.6 percent)


Symptoms of HIV include the following – fever, fatigue, high temperature, swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, thrush or oral yeast infection, diarrhea, cough, difficulty breathing, to name but a few.

HIV, when not properly managed, can develop into AIDS in about ten years, with some of the following symptoms – soaking night sweats, recurring fever, persistent fatigue, increased weight loss, chronic diarrhea, etc.


HIV is basically caused by a virus and is transmitted through the following: 

  • Blood transfusion
  • Unprotected sexual activities 
  • Mother-to-child [during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding]
  • Sharing sharp objects, such as blades, needles, hair clippers, piercing equipment, etc.


  • Avoid sharing sharp objects, such as blades, needles, hair clippers, etc.
  • Dispose of every used injection, circumcisions blade, and other piercing equipment around you.
  • Avoid raw or uncooked products.
  • Use new condoms whenever you want to have sexual intercourse, correctly and consistently.
  • HIV-positive moms should avoid breastfeeding their babies to avoid transmission.
  • Young adults should be exposed to adequate sexuality education.
  • Quick treatment should be offered to people diagnosed with HIV, immediately it is discovered.
  • Young adults should be given access to sexual and reproductive health information and services
  • Rape victims should be tested to know their HIV status. 


The following categories of people are more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS:

  • People who have unprotected and anal sex.
  • People with certain Sexually Transmitted Infection [STIs]
  • People who use intravenous drugs and share needles or other sharp objects
  • Men who are uncircumcised 

3. Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is a contagious airborne infection that mainly affects the lungs. It can spread to the brain, spine and other parts of the body if not well managed.

Report shows that more than 29% of reported cases of tuberculosis are in Africa, and 34% of the deaths from the airborne disease also occur in Africa. [3]

That said, it is equally important to let you know that there are two types of tuberculosis, including Latent TB and Active TB.

Latent TB – the germs have entered into your body, but your immune system inhibits them from spreading. In this regard, you will not experience any symptoms, and you’re not in any way contagious. It may further progress to active TB as time goes on. Therefore, be sure to go for treatment in case you are diagnosed with latent TB.

Active TB – this is the serious tuberculosis type. The germs have overridden your immune system, and you will begin to experience some of the common TB symptoms. You are also contagious at this stage.


People with TB infection will have no symptoms. However, those with active TB may experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Persistent cough; a cough that lasts more than three weeks
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Significant weight loss
  • Coughing up blood
  • Reduced appetite
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Chest pain
  • Chills


Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the bacteria responsible for tuberculosis. 

You can contract this infectious disease when an infected person coughs, sneezes, laughs, spits, talks, etc. in the air and you breathe in the germs released during that process.

As contagious as tuberculosis is, it will interest you to know that it’s not easy to become infected with it. Multiple studies reveal that you are more likely to catch the infectious disease from someone you are very close to [such as your close friends, family members, co-workers, etc.] than from a stranger out there.


  • If you are diagnosed with latent TB, be sure to consult your doctor and use your medications to prevent active TB, which is contagious.
  • If you are diagnosed with active TB, limit your contact with people around you; at your workplace, school, home, etc. Also, try covering your mouth whenever you want to cough, sneeze, laugh, spit, talk, etc.
  • If you want to travel to a place where TB is highly prevalent, avoid staying for a longer period in crowded places with TB patients.
  • Take a vaccine called “bacillus Calmette-Guerin, BCG” to reduce your risk of developing active tuberculosis


There’s no one who cannot get tuberculosis, but the following categories of people are more susceptible. People who:

  • Have Weak immune system
  • Have HIV/AIDS
  • Have Malnutrition
  • Have Diabetes
  • Have Severe kidney disease
  • Have Certain cancer types
  • Over-consume IV drugs, alcohol, or tobacco
  • Take certain medications for treating rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and psoriasis
  • Live with TB-positive patients.

4. Cholera

Cholera is a communicable, food-borne disease that is usually spread through contaminated water.  This is a very popular endemic disease in Nigeria. [4]

Despite the fact that this infectious disease is easy to treat, the report shows that over 5 million cases are recorded annually, and it causes over 100,000 deaths worldwide.

Cholera is prevalent in places with poor sanitation and high poverty levels.


  • wrinkled hands and feet 
  • lethargy 
  • sunken eyes
  • low blood pressure 
  • irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
  • passing out watery or blood-stained stools 
  • vomiting
  • dehydration 
  • irritability 
  • loss of body weight
  • loss of skin elasticity
  • stomach ache 
  • Reduced urine output 
  • muscle cramps 
  • rapid heart rate

If not treated, cholera can lead to shock and death as time goes on.


Cholera is caused by the bacterium called ‘Vibrio cholerae’. It is usually spread when you ingest food or water contaminated by faeces from a person with the infection. For instance, the following can lead to cholera:

  • Drinking municipal water supplies
  • Eating street vendor foods and drinks
  • Eating under-cooked meat and seafood
  • Eating vegetables are grown with water that contains human faeces
  • Drinking water from contaminated public wells
  • Living in crowded conditions without adequate sanitation.


  • Always wash your hands before eating and after using the toilet
  • Always cover your food and water
  • Cook your food thoroughly and store in a healthy area
  • Always take healthy food and water
  • Always wash and clean your toilet as and when due
  • If you use pit latrine, be sure to always close it after use
  • Avoid eating street vendor food, if possible.
  • Avoid eating raw or improperly cooked fish and seafood.
  • Consume fruits and vegetables that you can peel yourself [e.g. banana, orange, avocado] and avoid taking the ones that cannot be peeled [e.g. grape, berry].
  • Always wash your dishes and utensils immediately after use. 


Everyone is vulnerable to cholera, but certain factors determine the degree of vulnerability. To start with, people who:

  • Live in an environment with poor sanitary conditions, such as refugee camps, impoverished countries, developing countries, remote villages, etc.
  • Have Reduced or nonexistent stomach acid (hypochlorhydria or achlorhydria), such as children, older adults, etc.
  • Live with someone who has cholera.
  • Have Type O blood.
  • Work in places where cholera-positive patients are, such as hospitals, refugee camps, prisons, etc.
  • Work as relief workers and respond to cholera outbreaks
  • Drink water supplies that are contaminated with human waste and street food vendors.
  • Do not have access to ORT and other medical services
  • Have certain chronic medical conditions, such as HIV/AIDS.

5. Yellow Fever

Yellow fever is a potentially deadly flu-like disease spread by the bite of an infected female Aedes aegypti mosquito. The name of the disease was derived from one of its major symptoms – yellowing of the skin and eyes, also known as jaundice.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 250,000 yellow fever cases and 35,000 deaths are recorded annually, with 90% of the cases and deaths occurring in Africa. [5]


  • fever
  • bleeding from the nose, mouth, and eyes
  • headache
  • muscle aches, primarily in your back and knees
  • loss of appetite
  • abdominal pain and vomiting, sometimes of blood
  • dizziness
  • red eyes, face or tongue
  • chills
  • decreased urination
  • slow heart rate (bradycardia)
  • seizures


Yellow fever is caused by flavivirus, and you can develop it when an infected mosquito bites you. 

You will begin to experience some of the common symptoms 3-6 days after the attack. This includes fever, headache, chills, loss of appetite, etc.

That said, it is equally important to let you know that the disease is not contagious, i.e. it cannot be spread from one person to another.


The only way to prevent yellow fever is to get vaccination against it. The vaccination can offer protection for up to 10 years.

More importantly, another way to prevent this fever is by reducing your exposure to mosquitoes. You can do this by:

  • Reducing unnecessary outdoor activity when mosquitoes are most prevalent, e.g. during dawn, dusk and early evening.
  • Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants in mosquito-dense areas
  • Using insecticide-treated nets 
  • Applying mosquito repellent that contains permethrin to your clothing, shoes, and bed netting.
  • Applying skin repellent with DEET, IR3535 or picaridin on your skin

6.  Dysentery

Dysentery is an inflammation of the intestines that is usually followed by bloody diarrhoea. This disease is most mainly caused by shigella bacteria (shigellosis) or an amoeba.

The symptoms of dysentery are  fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, abdominal pain, flatulence, a slight stomach-ache, cramping, diarrhea, dehydration, weight loss, fatigue, intermittent constipation.

It usually results from poor sanitation. For instance, eating food and water contaminated by faecal matter from people who have dysentery. Swimming in contaminated water, e.g. public lakes or pools.

It can also be caused by a parasitic worm infection, chemical irritation, or viral infection.


  •  Wash your hands regularly, especially before and after using the bathroom and preparing food.
  • Avoid drinking water from unreliable sources, such as the public well.
  • Always cook your food thoroughly.
  • Avoid swallowing water when swimming.
  • Avoid taking drinks that aren’t bottled or sealed.
  • Avoid eating street vendor foods and beverages.
  • Avoid consuming unpasteurized milk, cheese, or dairy products.

7.  Diarrhea

Diarrhea is the second leading cause of death among children under the age of five in Nigeria.

The symptoms of diarrhea are stomach pain, abdominal cramps, bloating, persistent vomiting, dehydration, weight loss, fever, nausea, bloating, bloody stools, etc.

Potential causes of diarrhea include the following –food allergy, a viral or bacterial infection, an intestinal disease, diabetes, laxative abuse, certain cancer types, etc.


  •  Drink only safe water. I.e. water from trusted, reliable sources.
  • Always wash your hands with soap, especially after defecation or preparing food.
  • Always serve your food immediately after preparing it.


  • People who live in an environment with poor sanitary conditions, such as refugee camps, impoverished countries, developing countries, remote villages, etc.
  • People who live with someone who has diarrhea.
  • People who drink water supplies that are contaminated.
  • Do not have access to ORT and other medical services
  • People with certain chronic medical conditions, such as HIV/AIDS.

8. Meningitis

Meningitis is a condition that causes inflammation of brain and spinal cord membranes. This endemic disease is caused by a viral infection, bacterial or fungal. Vaccines are available to prevent some forms of meningitis. [6]

The symptoms of meningitis are fever, headache, numbness in the face, stiff neck, so that makes it difficult to lower your chin to your chest, lethargy, seizures, sensitivity to bright light, nausea, vomiting, reduced appetite, sleepiness, etc.

Bacterial, fungal or viral infection are the leading causes of meningitis. Secondary causes include: Autoimmune disorders, Certain medications, Certain diseases [such as Syphilis, Tuberculosis].


  • Get enough night rest; at least seven hours a day
  • Avoid taking alcohol or smoking
  • Avoid contact with sick people.

    Other Endemic Diseases in Nigeria 

Lassa Fever

Typhoid Fever: Read about Typhoid in Nigeria.

Hepatitis A and E

African Trypanosomiasis



Guinea Worm Diseases.


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