The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, on Monday raised concerns over the increasing cases of Lassa fever and urged increased focus on prevention and preparedness.
A statement issued by Lawal Bakare, the Technical Assistant Communication, NCDC, in Lagos said that seven states reported at least one case of Lassa Fever in December 2016.
Mr. Bakare said that 19 confirmed cases and six deaths had been reported by these seven states so far.
According to him, in the last quarter of 2016, the centre commenced the implementation of its Lassa Fever preparedness plan ahead of the current dry season.
This, he noted was to strengthen nationwide capacity to prevent, detect and respond to the anticipated Lassa fever cases.
“NCDC is working closely with affected states to ensure an appropriate response to these cases. Social mobilisation activities and sensitisation of health workers are being scaled up also.
“The outbreak response commodities that were prepositioned in the states by NCDC, are being used for the response.
“Epidemiological response activities such as contact listing and tracing are also going on in the affected states.
“States that had previously identified and resourced isolation units as they were advised are much better prepared to deal with cases,” he said.
Mr. Bakare said that it was encouraging to see that where patients were presented early to a hospital and healthcare workers had a high index of suspicion for Lassa fever, the patients walked out of the treatment centres in good health.
The technical assistant said that when diagnosis and treatment was late, it reduced the likelihood of recovery.
“Lassa fever is curable when there is rapid laboratory testing to confirm the disease, leading to early commencement of treatment.
“To prevent Lassa fever in the community, Nigerians are advised to keep their food safe from rats and rat excreta.
“Critically, Lassa fever transmission in healthcare settings can be prevented by strict adherence to universal precaution,” it stated.
He urged Nigerians to cooperate with their respective state governments in this response.
Mr. Bakare noted that the centre would continue to support states across the country throughout the dry season.
According to him, a Lassa fever working group has been set-up at the centre to ensure no state was left behind.
“Prevention of Lassa fever begins with a state of awareness, this disease is preventable and can be treated,” he said.
“Improving food and personal hygiene is key to prevention at household level.
“A high index of suspicion and observing universal safety precautions is also key to prevention at the health facility level.”