Nigeria’s minister raises alarm over rising cases of Lassa fever as disease hits 15 states
– Nigeria’s health minister, Professor Isaac Adewole, says 77 cases of Lassa fever were recorded in January 2018
– Adewole further reveals that the disease has spread to 15 of the 36 states of the federation
– The minister laments that even though the federal government prepared for the eventuality, the disease still hit the country
The federal government, through the health minister, Professor Isaac Adewole, has reportedly decried the alarming increase in the cases of Lassa fever across the country as he warned health workers to adhere to the universal precaution.
Daily Independent reports that Adewole said there were 77 recorded suspected cases of Lassa fever in Nigeria as at January 2018, adding: “15 states are already affected while Edo state has the highest number of those people infected, followed by Ondo State and Bauchi state has the lowest number of those infected.”
Speaking at the emergency national council on health meeting in Abuja, the minister lamented that this is the first time the country would witness such number of cases in the last 30 years.
“Edo state has the highest numbers of people infected and 10 deaths as a result of Lassa fever, followed by Ondo state, Ebonyi state recorded the lowest numbers of infection.
“Other states with Lassa fever suspected cases, include Plateau, Taraba, Nasarawa, Anambra, Benue, Kogi, Lagos and Imo States respectively.
“In 2018 there are 105 confirmed cases with 31 deaths. 10 healthcare workers affected in four States, Ebonyi (7), Nasarawa (1), Kogi (1), and Benue (1). Four deaths recorded, Ebonyi had 3 deaths and Kogi state recorded 1 death. Two health workers were treated and discharged.
“Lassa fever are seasonal with cluster of outbreaks in the dry season and sometimes in the late rainy season. The virus incubates within 5-21 days.
“The symptoms include fever, headaches, malaise, pharyngitis pain, abdominal pain. Some present classically with muscusal bleeding and facial swelling, leading to shock,” the minister said adding that the disease can be prevented by avoiding contact with mastomy, proper storage of foods, community hygiene and sanitation, proper disposal of rat traps, carcasses and none consumption of rodents as food source.
Premium Times also quotes the minister as saying: “We knew there were going to be cases of Lassa fever in the country and the Federal Ministry of Health had started preparation for 2018 since March 2017. Materials and training courses were given to states as at June and August respectively and by December (2017) we had written advisory letters to the states.
“It is sad that in spite of all the effort, we still failed. That is why we called this meeting. Why should we have lots of casualties? This is the failures of the commissioners to notify their governors of the need for preparation and early detection in each states.
“It is not the responsibility of the federal government to monitor weekly health report for the states, but they are only meant to be notified when diseases are detected and we are to provide support and not to move in to coordinate the whole activities,” he said.