The Federal Government on Monday has raised the alarm over an increasing number of Lassa fever cases since December 2016 and advised that increased attention should be focused on prevention and preparedness.
The Government specifically confirmed the death of six persons out of 19 confirmed cases of Lassa fever in seven states.
Already, a Lassa fever working group has been setup at the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), a parastatal in the Federal Ministry of Health, to ensure no state was left behind. “When diagnosis and treatment is late, it reduces the likelihood of recovery. Lassa fever is curable when there is rapid laboratory testing to confirm the disease, leading to early commencement of treatment. Critically, Lassa fever transmission in healthcare settings can be prevented by strict adherence to universal precautions. Doctors and nurses are advised to hold each other accountable to insist on these precautions”.
A statement issued by the Technical Assistant (Communication) in NCDC, Dr. Lawal Bakare, has warned healthcare workers to be vigilant and careful as they were at a higher risk of contracting Lassa fever.
The NCDC further urged Nigerians to cooperate with their respective state governments in the response as Lassa had become endemic in Nigeria. Plateau State is worse hit with six confirmed cases and three deaths.
The two cases confirmed in Ogun have died, while out of the six cases in Taraba State, one person has been confirmed dead.
One case was confirmed in Nasarawa State with no death, while one case of Lassa fever was reported in Edo, Ondo and Rivers states respectively with no death.
Bakare has also said that in the last quarter of 2016, the NCDC commenced the implementation of its Lassa fever preparedness plan ahead of the current dry season to strengthen nationwide capacity to prevent, detect and respond to the anticipated Lassa fever cases. Reports from states show prepositioned materials have been critical for states. “Since the beginning of this current dry season in December 2016, seven states have reported at least one case of Lassa fever. 19 confirmed cases and six deaths have been reported by these seven states.
“The NCDC is working closely with affected states to ensure an appropriate response to these cases. Social mobilization activities and sensitization of health workers are being scaled up. The outbreak response commodities that were prepositioned in the states by NCDC are being used for the response.”