Ondo State has recorded eight deaths this year from 106 confirmed cases and 268 suspected cases of Lassa fever infections, the state government said in Akure on Sunday.
The Special Adviser to the state governor on Health, Francis Faduyile, said the confirmed cases were recorded in six local government areas of Owo, Akure North, Akure South, Ose, Akoko South-West and Idanre.
He said Owo recorded the highest number of cases with 68; followed by Akure North with 13; Akure South, 11; Ose, 9; Akoko South-West, five; and Idanre,one.
“Between January 1 and January 23, we have had 268 suspected cases of Lassa Fever, 106 confirmed cases and unfortunately eight deaths,” Mr Faduyile said.
He noted that the prevalent period of the disease was during the dry season and part of the rainy season when farmers prepare the land for farming.
“The farmers during this period will do a lot of bush burning and when they burn the bush, the rats will move from their natural habitat to a safer place and a lot of them tend to come towards homes in the surrounding areas,” he further said.
“The first way to prevent Lassa fever is to stop bush burning and we have sensitised against this.”
Mr Faduyile advised people not to expose their foods so that rats do not have access to them.
“We have observed that some of our cultural activities like spreading cassava on the road to dry are harmful because rats can come around, eat out of the cassava and drop faeces or urine on it,” he said.
“Besides, we have observed that our level of hygiene, if it is not well improved, can attract rats, because rats are scavengers and when there are uneaten foods that are not covered, they tend to come.”
Mr Faduyile said the state government had embarked on advocacy through the local governments and traditional rulers as well as other preventive means to stop the disease.
“Every year there is deratification that is to kill all the rats, and we have started it this year which has been largely successful,” he said.
“Also, there has been a lot of advocacy for medical personnel to have a high index of suspicion for any fever.”
Mr Faduyile also said the government had improved the state Infectious Disease Hospital, Akure, to a standard that could take care of Lassa fever.
There have been 244 confirmed cases of the disease in the country this year.
According to NCDC, Nigeria recorded 18 new deaths from the viral infection from January 16 to January 22; bringing the total death toll to 37.
The cases were confirmed in 16 states and 50 local government areas with a Case Fatality Ratio of 15.1 per cent.
Edo and Ondo lead in the number of Lassa Fever cases in Nigeria.
READ ALSO: Lassa Fever: Edo records 10 new cases, three more deaths
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness caused by Lassa virus, a member of the arenavirus family of viruses.
Humans usually become infected through exposure to food or household items contaminated with urine or faeces of infected Mastomys rats. The disease is endemic in the rodent-prone population in parts of West Africa.
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