Lassa Fever Now in 10 States

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Isaac Adewole

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THE federal ministry of health has confirmed the presence of lassa fever in 10 states of the federation. The states under watch according to the government are, Bauchi, Nassarawa, Niger, Taraba, Kano, Rivers, Edo, Plateau, Gombe and Oyo. The ministry also confirmed the death of 35 persons across the country since the outbreak.

Isaac Adewole, minister of health, in a statement issued in Abuja in response to the outbreak of disease in the country, put the total number of suspected cases so far to 76 with 35 deaths, and a Case Fatality Rate of 46 percent. The federal government also said the impact had not reached the magnitude which the disease could be declared a national emergency.

Adewole assured Nigerians of government’s readiness to stem further spread of the haemorrhagic fever now confirmed by laboratories to be Lassa Fever Viral Disease. The minister assured the public that the government and its partners, and other stakeholders were working tirelessly to address the outbreak and bring it to timely end.

“It is important that I notify the nation through you, that in the last 6 weeks Nigeria has been experiencing Lassa fever (LF) outbreak which has so far affected 10 states. The States affected include Bauchi, Nassarawa, Niger, Taraba, Kano, Rivers, Edo, Plateau, Gombe and Oyo States. The total number so far reported is 81 and 35 deaths, with a mortality rate of 43.2 percent. Our laboratories have confirmed 17 cases, indicative of a new roundtrip of Lassa fever outbreak.

“The first case of the current outbreak was reported from Bauchi in November, 2015. This was followed by cases reported by Kano State, and subsequently the other states mentioned above. 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. Lassa fever was first detected in Nigeria in 1969.The number of recorded cases peaked in 2012 when 1,723 cases with 112 fatalities were recorded. It has continued to decline since then.

“About 80 percent 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. The onset of the disease is usually gradual, starting with fever, general weakness, and malaise followed by headache, sore throat, muscle pain, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, cough, and bleeding from mouth, nose, vagina or gastrointestinal tract, and low blood pressure.”

Meanwhile, Abdulrahman Nasidi, project director, National Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, told THISDAY in an interview that it would be too hasty to declare a national emergency given the current level of the disease. “The current Lassa Fever: it has not reached that level to declare a national emergency. We can confirm that it is Lassa Fever and the federal government is assisting the states to prevent further spreads. “We are also working hard building more isolation wards in hospitals, putting in place prevention strategies, training and capacity.”

He said current panic among the public and expectation that Lassa fever will be declared a national emergency similar to the Ebola outbreak was uncalled for given that the level of impact was still at a minimal level.

— Jan 11, 2016 @ 19:20 GMT

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