Lassa Fever Outbreak: 41 Nigerians killed in 10 states – Minister

The federal government says Lassa fever has claimed 41 lives
from 93 reported cases in 10 states of the country.
The federal government on Friday put the death toll at 40 out of
86 reported cases of Lassa fever outbreak in same 10 states.
The number of the suspected cases also rose from 86 last week
to 93.
The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, confirmed this in Abuja on
Tuesday at a joint ministerial news conference on the update of
the outbreak of the disease.
However, Mr. Adewole said there were no new confirmed cases
or deaths in the last 48 hours.
He did not disclose the states from where another life was lost.
“In the last 48 hours, the government raised a four-man expert
committee, chaired by Professor Michael Asuzu, to visit Kano,
Niger and Bauchi, the three most endemic states.
“The committee will embark on a fact finding mission, assess the
current situation, document response experiences, identify gaps
and proffer recommendations on how to prevent future
occurrences,” Mr. Adewole, a professor, said.
The minister assured the public the task of the committee was not
to apportion blame but rather to document lessons learnt for
better planning of an affective responsive.
According to Mr. Adewole, part of the long term response is to
establish an inter-ministerial committee to deliver a final blow on
Lassa fever and other related diseases.
The committee comprises the ministers of Education, Agriculture
and Natural Resources, Environment, Information and Culture as
well as Health.
Mr. Adewole advised communities to improve on their hygiene,
including food hygiene and food protection practices.
He also urged the public to avoid contact with rodents as well as
food contaminated with rat’s secretions and excretions.
“Avoid drying food in the open and along roadsides. It is also
important to cover all foods to prevent rodent contamination,” he
said.
The minister said affected states had been advised to intensify
awareness creation on the signs and symptoms of the disease.
According to him, the affected states are Bauchi, Nasarawa, Niger,
Taraba, Kano, Rivers, Edo, Plateau, Gombe and Oyo.
“The public is hereby assured that government and other
stakeholders are working tirelessly to address the outbreak and
bring it to timely end,” said the minister.
He said the ministry had ordered for the immediate release of
adequate quantities of “ribavirin”, the specific antiviral drug for
Lassa fever, to the affected states for prompt treatment of cases.
Mr. Adewole said Nigeria had the capability to diagnose Lassa
fever, adding that “all the cases reported so far were confirmed by
our laboratories”.
The first case of the current outbreak was reported from Bauchi in
November 2015.
(NAN)

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