By Sola Ogundipe, Chioma Obinna & David Odama
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, has confirmed nine deaths and 20 cases of Lassa Fever in seven states since the beginning of the dry season in December 2016; even as it commences implementation of its plan to strengthen nationwide response capacity to anticipated Lassa Fever cases.
However, in an interview with Vanguard, the Nasarawa State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Daniel Iya, confirmed four deaths and 16 cases in the state, while 38 people are now under surveillance.
In a statement made available to Vanguard, the Technical Assistant, Communication, of the NCDC, Dr Lawal Bakare, alerted Nigerians on the increasing cases of Lassa Fever and the need for increased focus on prevention and preparedness.
Bakare noted that Plateau State recorded three deaths out of six confirmed cases, while Ogun State recorded two deaths and two confirmed cases.
He added: “In Taraba State, there was one death out of the six confirmed cases,while Nasarawa recorded three deaths. Other states that have recorded one case each, without confirmed deaths, in-clude Edo, Ondo and Rivers.”
Meanwhile, NCDC in the last quarter of 2016 commenced implementation of its Lassa Fever plan ahead of the current dry season with a view to strengthening nationwide capacity to prevent, detect and respond to the anticipated cases.
The deaths in Nasarawa, last week, occurred in Keffi and Lafia Local Government areas, barely one year after two persons died at the State Specialist Hospital in Lafia, including the medical doctor that was treating the patients.
Vanguard gathered that two persons reportedly died at the Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital in Lafia, while the other patient, who was earlier referred to Federal Medical Centre in Keffi, also died in the course of treatment.
The Chief Medical Director of Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital, Dr. Ahmed Ashuku, also confirmed two new cases in an interview monitored on the state-owned radio station in Lafia.
He said the management of the hospital had engaged medical personnel on a one-day awareness campaign on the need to prevent further transmission of the disease .
Bakare, in the statement, further explained that NCDC is working with affected states to ensure an appropriate response to these cases.