16 deaths has been confirmed within a month following the increasing number of Lassa fever cases reported from several States across the country in a press statement released by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) yesterday.
According to the agency, since the beginning of 2018, a total number of 107 suspected Lassa fever cases have been recorded in Edo, Ondo, Bauchi, Nasarawa, Ebonyi, Anambra, Benue, Kogi, Imo and Lagos states making ten states.
“As at 21st January 2018, the total number of confirmed cases is 61, with 16 deaths recorded. Ten health care workers have been infected in four States (Ebonyi – 7, Nasarawa – 1, Kogi – 1 and Benue – 1) with three deaths in Ebonyi State, say the report.
Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness, transmitted to humans through contact with food or household items contaminated by infected rodents. Person-to-person transmission can also occur, particularly in hospital environment in the absence of adequate infection control measures.
The agency advice Health care workers again reminded that Lassa fever presents initially like any other disease causing a febrile illness such as malaria; and are advised to practice standard precautions at all times, maintaining a high index of suspicion. Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) must be applied to all suspected cases of malaria. When the RDT is negative, other causes of febrile illness including Lassa fever should be considered. Accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment increase the chances of survival.
“Family members who are providing care for patients with Lassa fever should take extra caution and in addition, States are encouraged to ensure safe and dignified burial practices for patients who die from Lassa fever”, the report stated.
NCDC is collaborating with the World Health Organization (WHO), Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, African Field Epidemiology Network, US Centers for Disease Control, University of Maryland Baltimore (UMB), Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA) and other agencies, in supporting the response in the affected States.