Minister of Health,professor Isaac Adewole said Forty people have died in Nigeria in a suspected outbreak of Lassa fever in 10 states across the country.
The Minister who stated this at a news conference in Abuja,Friday that the total number of reported cases is 86 and 40 deaths, with a mortality rate of 43.2 percent.
According to the minister “laboratory tests have confirmed that 22 of the 86 suspected cases were Lassa fever and results were expected on the remaining.”
“Seven of the affected states are in the north — Bauchi, Nasarawa, Niger, Taraba, Kano, Plateau and Gombe — while the remaining three are in the south — Rivers, Edo and Oyo.”
‘The ministry deployed rapid response teams to all affected states to assist in investigating and verifying the cases as well as tracing of contacts.”
“The ministry has ordered for the immediate release of adequate quantities of “Ribavirin’’, the specific antiviral drug for Lassa fever, to the affected states for prompt treatment of cases.”
“Avoid drying food in the open and along roadsides, it is also important to cover all foods to prevent rodents contamination,’’ he said.
“The public is hereby assured that government and its partners and other stakeholders are working tirelessly to address the outbreak and bring it to timely end,’’ the minister said .
He said clinicians and relevant health care workers had been sensitised and mobilised in areas of patient management and care in the affected states.
He however advised family members and health care workers to always be careful and avoid contact with blood and body fluids while caring for sick persons infected by the disease.
He also directed health facilities in the country to emphasise routine infection prevention and control measures and ensure that all Lassa fever patients are treated free.
According to him’ Nigeria has the capability to diagnose Lassa fever, “all the cases reported so far were confirmed by our laboratories.”
The virus, which is endemic in rodents in west Africa, is transmitted to humans by contact with food or household items contaminated with the animals’ faeces and urine.
Person-to-person contact is also possible through bodily fluids, particularly in hospitals when adequate infection control measures are not taken.
Lassa fever is an acute febrile illness, with bleeding and death in severe cases, caused by the Lassa fever virus with an incubation period of 6-21 days. About 80% of human infections are asymptomatic; the remaining cases have severe multi-system disease, where the virus affects several organs in the body, such as the liver, spleen and kidneys.