As the deadly disease of Lassa fever continues to spread from one state to the other in the country, bringing down the souls of victims in their tens, the death toll from the epidemic rose from 40 to 41 yesterday, with increase in reported cases from 86 to 93.
The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, who confirmed this in Abuja on Tuesday at a joint ministerial news conference on the update of the outbreak of the disease, however assured the citizens of the Federal Government’s efforts in curtailing further spread of the virus.
According to the Minister, Nigeria has been experiencing Lassa fever outbreak in the past six weeks in Bauchi, Nasarawa, Niger, Taraba, Kano, Rivers, Edo, Plateau, Gombe and Oyo states.
“The first case of the current outbreak was reported from Bauchi in November last year. This was followed by cases reported by Kano State and subsequently the other states mentioned above”.
“Our laboratories have confirmed 22 cases so far, indicative of a new round trip of Lassa fever outbreak.The Nigerian government will continue to enhance its surveillance and social health education, information and communication activities to prevent the disease from spreading further in Nigeria and I wish to call for the support and understanding of Nigerians”, the minister said.
Adewole added that in response to the reported outbreak, the Federal Government had taken some drastic measures to curtail further spread and reduce mortality.
The measures, he said, included immediate release of adequate quantities of ribavirin, the specific antiviral drug for Lassa Fever to all the affected states for prompt and adequate treatment of cases; and deployment of rapid response teams from the Federal Health Ministry to all the affected states to assist in investigating and verifying the cases and tracing of contacts.
He however said that the non-specific nature of symptoms and varied presentations, have made clinical diagnosis difficult and delayed, especially in the early course of the disease outbreak.
In case of any suspected Lassa fever patient around you, you should immediately contact the epidemiologist in the State Ministry of Health or call the Federal Ministry of Health using the following numbers: 08093810105,08163215251, 08031571667 and 08135050005.