By Peter Duru, Makurdi
National Center for Disease Control, NCDC has confirmed 21 suspected cases and five deaths in the recent outbreak of Lassa Fever in Benue state.
Programs Officer, Risk Communications Desk, NCDC, Mrs. Hanatu Bello who made the disclosure yesterday in Makurdi said “since the beginning of the year, there have been 21 suspected cases of Lassa fever in Benue State. Eight cases were confirmed after laboratory tests and five deaths have so far been recorded.”
Mrs. Bello said, “we have recently activated the Emergency Operation Centre, EOC, in Benue state in response to the outbreak and we are working with the state team to contain the outbreak.
“Lassa fever, though preventable, must be treated early. It is caused by the body fluids of rats and once these body fluids contaminate our utensils, it can cause infection.
“Infected persons can also infect others and it only takes a few days to show signs and symptoms such as fever, sore throats, bloody diarrhea, bleeding from the gums, bleeding into skin, eyes and urine.
“For now only Benue State University Teaching Hospital, BSUTH is the medical facility that handles and treats infected persons but the Disease Surveillance and Notification Officers are in all the local government areas to monitor happenings there and to ensure referrals.”
“We must encourage people to wash their hands properly by observing the five steps of handwashing. Hand washing mush be with running water and not static water before cooking, after the use of toilet and while attending to sick people, before and after attending to cuts or wounds.
“We must discourage people from keeping trash in their houses and we must constantly keep our surroundings clean and we must keep our trash bins covered so that they don’t attract rodents. We must also block rat holes in our house. Raw foodstuffs should also be properly covered,” she said.