Lassa fever update across Nigeria: Death toll hits 43


Yesterday, Nigerian health authorities announced the death of a Lassa fever victim at the National Hospital, Abuja, the nation’s capital. The announcement was confirmed by the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, in a statement signed by the Director of Press of the Federal Ministry of Health, Mrs. Boade Akinola.

Reportedly, the patient was brought in unconscious from a private hospital in Kubwa, a suburb of Abuja, where he had been admitted for eight days. The deceased was a 33-year-old newly married residence of Jos, Plateau State, who had travelled to see family in Kubwa because of his illness. Unfortunately, he died within a day of being taken to the national hospital.

Nigerian Health Authorities have started tracking all who had being in contact with the deceased, including staff of the private hospital in Kubwa, where the deceased was hospitalized for a week before his referral to the National Hospital.

Family members of the deceased are also advised to report at the nearest hospital if anyone has a fever that persists more than two days.

Professor Isaac Adewole admonished the residence of Abuja to be very vigilant and to present themselves for test if they feel symptoms of Lassa fever – stooling, vomiting, tiredness, high fever, etc. He also added that self-medication should be avoided this period.

Edo state

Meanwhile authorities of the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Edo State said Lassa fever cases were endemic in Edo North senatorial district. So far, the fever has reportedly killed nine people in Edo state since its outbreak in November 2015. According to Dr. Sylvanus Okogbenin, the chief medical director of the hospital, patients present themselves quite late, hence the need for more public sensitisation.

According to him, if patients would report themselves early, they would receive proper treatment as the hospital has adequate Ribavarin injections, and a renal dialysis unit – specified treatments for Lassa fever patients. “We’ve had quite some deaths, although majority of them occur in the Accident and Emergency ward. In other words, they just come and before you can diagnose, the patient dies. They are coming so late to the hospital,” said Dr. Okogbenin, as reported by ThisDay.

So far, the acute viral illness has claimed 43 lives from over 90 reported cases in 10 states of the country – Bauchi, Nasarawa, Niger, Taraba, Kano, Rivers, Edo, Plateau, Gombe and Oyo, with Kano, Niger and Bauchi as the most endemic states.

Lagos state

With a pending suspected case of Lassa fever in Lagos state, the Environmental Health Officers Association of Nigeria, EHOAN, has called for the recruit of more Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) to enhance preventive healthcare delivery services in the state.

Currently, there are only 547 available EHO’s in Lagos state, a number that cannot guarantee adequate hygienic and preventive environmental health service that is required in the fight against Lassa fever and any other disease outbreak in the state.

Appealing to the Lagos state government, Mr. Samuel Akingbehin, the chairman of the EHOs said that the state will need an additional 2,500 trained, certified and licensed EHOs to safeguard the region, and its ever increasing population.

The general public has been advised to improve on their hygiene, especially food hygiene and protection practices.

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