The Lassa fever virus is fast sweeping through the country. Three cases of the deadly disease has been recorded in Akwa Ibom State, leaving one dead.
The Commissioner for Health in the state, Dr. Dominic Ukpong, confirmed this yesterday at the inauguration of a task force on the eradication of Lassa Fever in the state yesterday.
According to Dr. Ukpong, the state have recorded the death of a 53-year-old crayfish seller who died of the virus before the result of her test was out. The woman who took ill early in January was being treated in a private hospital before she was referred to University of Uyo Teaching Hospital where she eventually died.
“We had three suspected cases including one confirmed case. Unfortunately the confirmed case, a 53-year-old woman who sells crayfish, has died. Her test result came out after she had died. The third case is someone that has been under treatment for HIV. This shows how serious this problem has become in the state.
“We are worried because of the fact that during the Christmas period, the 53-year-old woman got in contact with some of the family members and some of them had already travelled back to other states before taking ill on January 5, and then went to a private hospital where she was being treated.”
He added that those who had contacts with her while in the hospital will be traced.
“The doctors suspected at the private clinic that it was a bigger health issue and referred her to the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital. She was isolated there and she eventually died. We are also going to trace those that she had contact with in the hospitals and the mortuary workers. It is a big problem we are going to solve. And I want to appeal to health workers that we must get every detail.”
He further appealed to rat eaters to stop, advising people to keep cats which will be helpful in the fight against rats.
“The situation is that Akwa Ibom is no longer free, and since rat meat is not so much a delicacy in the state, I appeal to those that eat rat to please stop it. We advise that you keep cats if you can, because cats drive away rats.”
As part of efforts to contain the further spread of the virus in the country, Chairman of Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) Rivers State branch, Dr. Furo Green, have advised the general public to avoid drinking garri soaked in cold water for now as rats that carry the highly contagious Lassa fever virus also like exposed dry garri.
The Lagos State government has directed its environmental officers to embark on a massive sensitization campaign across the state on the need to rid the state of rats and not less than 7,243 rats have been killed ever since.