The Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) has said that the recent outbreak of Lassa fever in the country has spread to 10 states with 61 confirmed cases.
In a statement issued on Wednesday by its chief executive officer, Chikwe Ihekweazu, the NCDC said 16 people have died from the disease and 107 suspected cases has been recorded in ten states across the country.
The affected states include; Edo, Ondo, Bauchi, Nasarawa, Ebonyi, Anambra, Benue, Kogi, Imo and Lagos.
The statement added that “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.”
It went on to say that the center is collaborating with the World Health Organisation (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.
The body however urged health workers to practice standard precautions at all times, maintaining a high index of suspicion as Lassa fever presents initially like any other disease causing a febrile illness such as malaria.
It also stated that “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.”
The statement went further to say that “Lassa fever can be prevented through practicing good personal hygiene and proper environmental sanitation.
“Effective measures include storing grain and other foodstuffs in rodent-proof containers, disposing of garbage far from the home, maintaining clean households, and other measures to discourage rodents from entering homes. Hand washing should be practiced frequently.
It also said in addition, states were encouraged to ensure safe and dignified burial practices for patients who die from Lassa fever.
Okorocha Warns Imo Residents To Stop Drinking Garri
Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State has warned residents to stop drinking ‘raw garri’ as three persons were confirmed dead in the state as a result of Lassa fever.
The governor said this in a statement issued via his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, and made available to newsmen.
Mr. Okorocha advised indigenes of the state to stop drinking raw garri (cassava flakes) as well as avoid crowded areas.
“This is not the period for people to drink raw garri because you know garri is not cooked and people just pour water on garri and drink when a rat has urinated on the garri. So people are advised as much as possible to ensure that their food is properly cooked,” the governor said.