The Federal Government has confirmed that seven new cases of Lassa fever had been reported and confirmed in Ondo, Edo, and Bauchi states.
Director of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (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?”
In a weekly report collated by the parastatal revealed that four of the seven new cases were reported in Edo State, two was reported in Ondo while Bauchi had one case.
It also confirmed that 44 cases of Lassa fever were recorded 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.
Mrs. Elsie Ilori called for sensitisation across all levels.
“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 percent 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 reduce 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 has very similar symptoms.
Dr. Ihekweazu explained that over the last few years, Lassa fever has broken out in several states across the federation with increasing prevalence, adding that the new preventive measures taken by the government have reduced the rate of Lassa contraction by 20 per cent.
It was also revealed that the National Reference Laboratory for rapid testing of cases of Lassa fever, will be operational by the second quarter of 2017.
The Medical and Health Workers Union, Lagos State Council, has warned Nigerians to stay away from the consumption of soaked garri, at least for now so as to prevent Lassa fever.
The union who say that it would embark on public enlightenment to discourage consumption of soaked garri for now to prevent Lassa fever explained that house rats that cause Lassa fever are mostly in contact with Nigerian most popular food, garri.
The union also expressed determination to wage war against rats in the state and public enlightenment on fighting the epidemic.
Lassa is named after a village in Borno state, where the disease broke out in 1969, killing two missionary nurses. Nigeria witnessed an outbreak of the epidemic in 2015.
Lassa fever is usually contracted from exposure to urine or faeces of infected Mastomys rats. It may also be spread between humans through direct contact with the blood, urine, faeces, or other bodily secretions of an infected person.
Person-to-person transmission occurs in both community and health-care settings, where the virus may be spread by contaminated medical equipment, such as re-used needles.
World Health Organisation (WHO), also reports that the disease can be transmitted via sexual intercourse with infected persons, with such cases reported in the past.
Lassa Fever has no cure but can be prevented.