The Federal Government on Friday confirmed the death of 40 people out of 86 reported cases of Lassa fever outbreak in 10 states. Prof. Isaac Adewole, Minister of Health, said this in Abuja while briefing newsmen on the outbreak of the haemorrhagic fever. 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 and rats 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 rodents contamination,” he said. The minister said affected states have 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 its partners 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. Adewole added that the ministry deployed rapid response teams to all affected states to assist in investigating and verifying the cases as well as tracing of contacts.
He said also clinicians and relevant health care workers had been sensitised and mobilised in areas of patient management and care in the affected states.
Besides, he advised family members and health care workers to always be careful and avoid contact with blood and body fluids while caring for sick persons infected by the disease.
He also directed health facilities in the country to emphasise routine infection prevention and control measures and ensure that all Lassa fever patients are treated free.
Adewole said Nigeria has the capability to diagnose Lassa fever, adding that “all the cases reported so far were confirmed by our laboratories”.
“The ministry would not impose travel restrictions as a form of control measure ‘from and to’ the areas currently affected by the outbreak,” Adewole said. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the first case of the current outbreak was reported from Bauchi in November.