February 29, 2024

Benue records 46 Lassa fever cases, 9 deaths 


…Ortese IDP camp records outbreak 

By Peter Duru, Makurdi 

Benue is said to have recorded 46 Lassa fever cases and nine deaths in seven Local Government Areas, LGAs, of the state. 

Some of the cases were said to have been recorded in an Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, camp. 

The State Epidemiologist, Dr. Terungwa Ngishe, who made this known Thursday in Makurdi, said the LGAs affected in the outbreak included Obi, Okpokwu, Gwer West, Makurdi, Guma, Gwer East, and Ukum. 

He explained that the infection rate was higher than the figure from last year, assuring that sustained efforts were on to contain the outbreak. 

He said, “So far as we speak, from the results gotten, Benue has 46 cases of Lassa fever. The cases are spread across seven LGAs, namely: Obi, Okpokwu, Gwer West, Makurdi, Guma, Gwer East, and Ukum. 

“It is actually an increase compared to what we had last year. So far, we have nine deaths in confirmed cases as we speak. And we have been able to bury all the dead in accordance with safe burial protocols across the various areas of the state where they hail from. 

“And we have sustained response through the intervention of the Federal Government, World Bank, and the National Centre for Disease Control, NCDC.   They have spoken loudly to enhance our surveillance efforts, risk communication (creating social behaviour change) in the communities; they have also spoken to the laboratory component of the response and coordination. 

“Given the number of deaths we have recorded, we are hoping to reduce the numbers such that the key fatality rate for the state is less than 10 per cent; which is what the national expects from all of the state. For now, what we have is above that figure.” 

On when the state recorded its first case this season, Dr. Ngishe said, “The first case was noticed in week 50 of last year. As you know, generally there are shortages of personnel for several reasons, and Benue State is not exempt. 

“However, we are looking forward to such capacity staff that will join and help us in the course of the response; because, when you are overwhelmed or have a lot of cases, you inform the government and the partners and keep improving on it.” 

Dr. Ngishe, who informed us that some of the cases were recorded in one of the IDP camps in the state, said, “We have reported cases in the IDP camps, precisely Ortese IDP camp. We also took several samples as well from the host community, but from the samples we have taken, we did not pick any other positive cases. 

“However, there is active surveillance going on in the community in trying to ensure that if there is anybody at all that we missed during that particular period, the surveillance team will pick it and report the case immediately. 

“The IDP camp is a cluster setting with very poor infection control in terms of poor sanitation; it is a crowded environment, and they have issues of malnutrition. 

“And from our report so far, the IDP camp has a high population of rats, so if the rats transmitting such are within the IDP camps, it means that we need to work extra hard to make sure that we do not have an outbreak that will be difficult to contain. 

“We are doing all of these together with our partners to make sure that the state does not have a humanitarian disaster more than what it is already suffering.”