The Federal Government on Wednesday said 44 cases of Lassa fever have been confirmed since December 2016 in nine states including Ogun, Plateau, Bauchi, Taraba, Edo, Nasarawa, Rivers, Ebonyi and Ondo, with some of the cases reported as probable.
The government also announced that seven new cases of Lassa fever had been reported and confirmed in Edo, Ondo, and Bauchi states.
While four of the seven new cases were reported in Edo State, two was reported in Ondo while Bauchi had one case reported in the weekly report collated by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
A Director at the NCDC, a parastatal of the Federal Ministry of Health, Mrs. Elsie Ilori, stated this during a Lassa fever advocacy meeting with the theme: “What is the situation out there on Lassa fever?”
She called for proper sensitisation at all levels based on the evidence that Lassa fever was seasonal and could be endemic with the rationale that it would occur but should not be the cause of death.
She said that states as well as local governments were expected to get their own supplies of drugs as the Federal Government had given them supplies already.
Ilori said, “The first case last year was reported on December 19 and so far, there have been reported cases in nine states and the states are Ogun, Plateau, Bauchi, Taraba, Edo, Nasarawa, Rivers, Ebonyi and Ondo. In some of these states, Lassa fever is endemic. We have had 44 confirmed cases since December and seven of them were laboratory-confirmed while seven were probable. Probable cases are cases that we were not able to collect the laboratory samples and those cases died.
“The fatality rate is high because people are not sensitised enough. We have 54.5 per cent fertility rate. So far, we have reported seven laboratory-confirmed cases and they are Edo which reported four, Ondo which reported two and Bauchi which had one.”
The Chief Executive Officer of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said to stem the scourge of Lassa fever in the country, healthcare workers must always apply universal precautions stipulating that medical personnel and patients must insist on having a test before treatment as malaria and Lassa fever have very similar symptoms.
While encouraging patients not to embark on self medication, he said it was proper that heaps of refuse were properly collected and disposed in order to end the challenge posed by Lassa fever.
To achieve this, he said individuals and organisations must be held accountable as rodents, the primary vectors for Lassa fever, would always abound in dirty environments.
It was reported that the Federal Government had recently raised the alarm over an increasing number of Lassa fever cases since December 2016 and advised that attention should be focused on prevention.
The government had specifically confirmed the death of six persons out of the 19 confirmed cases of Lassa fever in seven states.
Already, Lassa fever working groups has been set up at the NCDC to ensure no state was left behind.
“When diagnosis and treatment is late, it reduces the likelihood of recovery. Lassa fever is curable when there is rapid laboratory testing to confirm the disease, leading to early commencement of treatment. Critically, Lassa fever transmission in healthcare settings can be prevented by strict adherence to universal precautions. Doctors and nurses are advised to hold each other accountable to insist on these precautions,” the NCDC said.