Isaac Adewole, minister of health, has confirmed the death of 40 Nigerians, due to an outbreak of Lassa fever in 10 states of the federation.
Briefing the nation on the outbreak, Adewole said the viral disease had found its way to Bauchi, Nasarawa, Niger, Taraba, Kano Rivers, Edo, Plateau, Gombe and Oyo states.
He said the ministry of health was responding promptly to the outbreak, with adequate measures to curb the disease and reduce mortality.
“The total number so far reported is 86 cases and 40 deaths, with a mortality rate of 45 percent. Our laboratories have confirmed 22 cases so far indicative of a new round trip of Lassa fever outbreak,” Adewole said.
“In response to this outbreak, the federal ministry of health, under my leadership, has taken the following measures to contain further spread and reduce mortality among those affected.
“One: the mini-release of adequate quantities of ribavirin, the specific anti-viral drug for Lassa fever, to all the affected state for prompt and adequate treatment of cases.”
The minister called on Nigerians to avoid contact with those undergoing treatment, insisting that travel ban would not be needed in states currently affected.
“Family members and healthcare workers are advised to always be careful to avoid contact with blood and body fluids while caring for sick persons. No travel restrictions will be imposed from and to areas currently affected.
“Healthcare workers seeing a patient suspected to have Lassa Fever 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.”
Lassa is a hemorrhagic fever. In about 20% of cases, it causes internal bleeding, vomiting and diarrhea. It’s found in West Africa, in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria, and spreads to people through infected rats indigenous to the area, and contact with bodily fluids from infected individuals.