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Lassa Fever spreads, 29 already dead, two doctors inclusive



Lassa fever, also known as Lassa hemorrhagic fever (LHF), a type of viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus has continued to spread in Nigeria with a new case discovered in Ogun State, South West Nigeria.

The Ogun Government confirmed  that a pregnant 29 year- old who took ill and was referred to the Federal Medical Center (FMC) Abeokuta. Was diagnose with the disease.

Commissioner for Health, Dr Tomi Coker, made this known in a statement on Sunday in Abeokuta.

She said the suspected Lassa Fever case was confirmed by the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Virology Laboratory on January 24.

She, however disclosed that, contrary to some reports circulating in the media, “the patient is not dead as she was transferred to the Federal Specialist Hospital in Irua, Edo, whose facilities provided the patient with the full benefit of multidisciplinary care required for her due to her pregnancy.”

She added that the Rapid Response Team has commenced line listing of all who had come into contact with the patient for surveillance purposes, including her relatives and hospital staff that managed the case.

Coker assured members of the public that the state acted proactively by putting all counter measures in place to contain the situation.

Also a doctor in Jigawa state in the northern part of the country  has been diagnosed with Lassa fever.

The acting permanent secretary, Jigawa State Ministry of health, Salisu Mu’azu, confirmed this  on Sunday morning, saying the victim who was identified as  Anthony Etim, is  a staff of Medicins Sans Frontieres also known as Doctors without Borders,  and he  is now being treated at the isolated Infectious disease control unit in Jahun hospital at Jahun Local Government Area of Jigawa.

Etim reportedly developed the symptoms following an official engagement at an Internally Displaced Persons Camps (IDPs Camp) in Borno State.

This development is coming days after it was  reported how two doctors and a pregnant woman died from the disease in the neighbouring Kano State.

Mu’azu said about eleven people in Birnin Kudu Local Government Area of Jigawa are being closely monitored following contact with a relative, a medical doctor, now quarantined in Kano over the Lassa fever.

He said the state government is taking precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the disease among health personnel by using the approved standard of protective materials for its personnel.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)  said as at the  January 24,  2020, 195 confirmed cases and 29 deaths had been reported in 11 states. Of the confirmed cases, 89% are from Ondo, Edo and Ebonyi States.

It said in a statement made available to newsreportersng.com that the increase in the number of cases at this time of the year is not unusual due to ecological factors.

The National EOC includes representatives from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA),Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Federal Ministry of Environment, World Health Organization, UNICEF, US Centers for Disease Control, and other partners.

The NCDC continues to support states in strengthening their preparedness and response capacity. Over the last three weeks, NCDC has deployed Rapid Response Teams to support five of the affected states. The statement signed by Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, the DG, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control  said that the Honourable Minister of Health, Dr.Osagie Ehanire led a high-level delegation to Kano State on the  January 25,  2020, following the deaths of two health workers infected with Lassa fever,  adding that NCDC has rapidly increased risk communications and community engagement activities to ensure that Nigerians are aware of the risks of Lassa fever and measures to protect themselves.

“There has been a decline in the case fatality rate of reported Lassa fever cases from 23.4% in 2019 to 14.8% this year. NCDC continues to support treatment centres across states in the country to effectively manage Lassa fever cases.

“In addition, five laboratories in Nigeria have the capacity to diagnose Lassa fever in Nigeria. These laboratories are critical to reducing turnaround time between identifying a suspected case and confirmation. This ensures prompt case management and other response activities, thereby reducing the number of deaths.

“Nigeria is contributing to research and other activities for the development of a Lassa fever vaccine. NCDC and the three main treatment centres in the country- Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Federal Medical Centre Owo and Alex Ekwueme Federal Teaching Hospital Abakalilki- are set to commence Lassa fever epidemiological studies that will provide data to guide research and response activities.”

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