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16 deaths recorded as Lassa fever spreads to 10 states

The Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) says 107 suspected cases of Lassa fever virus have been recorded in 10 states across the country. 

In a statement on Wednesday, the center said there the total number of confirmed cases had risen to 61 as of Sunday, with 16 deaths recorded.

The statement issued by Chikwe Ihekweazu, NCDC chief executive officer, lister the affected states as Edo, Ondo, Bauchi, Nasarawa, Ebonyi, Anambra, Benue, Kogi, Imo and Lagos.

“Ten health care workers have been infected in four states: Ebonyi, 7; Nasarawa, 1; Kogi, 1; and Benue, 1; with three deaths in Ebonyi state,” the statement read.

The center also said it is collaborating with the World Health Organisation (WHO), federal ministry of agriculture and rural development, Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, African Field Epidemiology Network, US Centers for Disease Control, University of Maryland Baltimore (UMB), Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA) and other agencies, in supporting the response in the affected states.

It said: “Lassa fever can be prevented through practicing good personal hygiene and proper environmental sanitation.

“Effective measures include storing grain and other foodstuffs in rodent-proof containers, disposing of garbage far from the home, maintaining clean households, and other measures to discourage rodents from entering homes. Hand washing should be practiced frequently.

“Health care workers are again reminded that Lassa fever presents initially like any other disease causing a febrile illness such as malaria; and are advised to practice standard precautions at all times, maintaining a high index of suspicion.

“Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) must be applied to all suspected cases of malaria. When the RDT is negative, other causes of febrile illness including Lassa fever should be considered.

“Accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment increase the chances of survival. Family members who are providing care for patients with Lassa fever should take extra caution.”

It also said in addition, states were encouraged to ensure safe and dignified burial practices for patients who die from Lassa fever.

It added that the national guidelines for infection prevention and control, as well as Lassa fever case management have been developed and disseminated to states.

You could check these guidelines here.

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