Lassa fever: Nigerian death toll rises to 90

Rats used to illustrate the story.
Rats used to illustrate the story.

The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has officially confirmed the death of 90 persons from Lassa fever.

The situation report from NCDC for week eight, released on Friday disclosed that from January 1 to February 25, 2018, 1081 suspected cases and 90 deaths have been reported from 18 states rising from the initial 54 recorded.

These states are Edo, Ondo, Bauchi, Nasarawa, Ebonyi, Anambra, Benue, Kogi, Imo, Plateau, Lagos, Taraba, Delta, Osun, Rivers, FCT, Gombe and Ekiti.

The new situation report showed that 36 people died within a week.

Fourteen health workers were also affected in six states- Ebonyi (seven), Nasarawa (one), Kogi (one), Benue (one), Ondo (one) and Edo (three) with four deaths in Ebonyi and one in Kogi.

Sixty-nine per cent of all confirmed cases are from Edo (43 per cent) and Ondo (26 per cent). Case Fatality Rate in confirmed and probable cases is 22 per cent.

As at last week, NCDC weekly epidemiological report released for ‘week seven’ disclosed that 913 suspected cases of the disease had been reported from 17 states.

Out of these, 272 cases were confirmed positive and 54 deaths recorded giving a case fatality rate of 21 per cent.

The situation report shows that the predominant age group affected is age group 21-40. The male to female ratio for confirmed cases is also 2:1.

“A total of 2845 contacts have been identified from 18 active states and 1897 are currently being followed up,” states the report.

Mr. Ihekweazu in an interview with Arise TV blamed the late presentation of the disease for treatment as one of the reasons for high mortality rates of the disease.

He enjoined doctors to immediately ‘suspect’ Lassa fever whenever a patient comes to the hospital with presentations of ailments similar to fever.

Mr. Ihekweazu said doctors should always take precautionary measures while handling patients’ treatments and also ensure to first test for malaria immediately patient present malaria symptoms.

He said there are effective cheap rapid malaria test kits in the market that can be used to test for malaria.

Mr. Ihekweazu explained that early presentation will make it easy to treat the patients instead of treatment of malaria for weeks when that is not the case.

Meanwhile, NCDC has deployed teams to four Benin Republic border states (Kebbi, Kwara, Niger and Oyo) for enhanced surveillance activities, the report states.

The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, had earlier blamed states health commissioners for lack of preparedness and slow medical intervention in tackling outbreak of Lassa fever in the country.

Mr. Adewole had expressed disappointment at the way most states handled the outbreak as it showed lack of preparedness.

Lassa fever can be prevented through practicing good personal hygiene and proper environmental sanitation.

Effective measures include storing grain and other foodstuffs in rodent-proof containers, disposing of garbage far from the home, maintaining clean households, and other measures to discourage rodents from entering homes.

Hand washing should also be practiced frequently.

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