Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) yesterday said that seven new cases of Lassa fever have been reported in Edo, Ondo and Bauchi states. There are four cases in Edo, two in Ondo and one in Bauchi.
Meanwhile, healthcare workers in the country have been advised to always apply universal precautions by insisting that medical personnel and patients alike must go for tests before the treatment of malaria as Lassa fever has very similar symptoms with it.
Speaking at the Lassa Fever Advocacy Meeting in Abuja on Tuesday, NCDC Deputy Director in the Surveillance Department, Mrs. Elsie Ilori, disclosed that there have been 44 confirmed cases reported since December 2016 in nine states namely, Ogun, Plateau, Bauchi, Taraba, Edo, Nasarawa, Rivers, Ebonyi and Ondo, with some of them categorised as probable.
According to Ilori, “out of the 44 confirmed cases, we have 37 that were confirmed at the laboratory and seven that are probable. When we say probable, we mean cases we were unable to collect the laboratory samples but had all the symptoms of Lassa fever and they died and so they were linked to confirmed cases.”
She noted that fatality rate of Lassa fever, which was about 54.5 per cent, is high because people are not well sensitised enough on the disease. She added that Lassa fever was seasonal and could become endemic.
Ilori observed that states as well as local councils across the country, especially in the affected places, are expected to get their own drugs as the Federal Government had earlier given them seed supplies.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the centre, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, urged patients to desist from self-medication and ensure that heaps of refuse that could attract rats were properly collected and disposed.
To achieve this, he said individuals and organisations must be held accountable as rodents, which are the primary vectors for Lassa fever always abound in such environments.
He disclosed that the centre has achieved 20 per cent reduction in Lassa fever-related deaths through people’s habits and positive response to sensitisation programmes.
“We have been able to prevent a lot of deaths. We want people to know that when they have fever, they should report immediately to the public health facilities. We have laboratories in Lagos, Edo and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja,” he added.