Lassa fever deaths hit 41 in 250 cases

The Federal Government said on Tuesday the country had recorded about 250 cases of Lassa fever nationwide, with 41 deaths.

The minister, who made the declaration at a press conference in Abuja, said six health workers were among those infected by the disease.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, gave the figures while giving an update on the Lassa fever outbreak in the country.The conference was called to kick-start national sensitisation and health awareness in the country,

FG plans free treatment –CMD

Ehanire made the declaration just as the Chief Medical Director of Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital in Edo State, Prof. Sylvania Okogbenin, also on Tuesday, disclosed that the Federal Government was concluding talks to declare the treatment for Lassa fever free.

Okogbenin, who spoke with journalists in his office in Irrua, said 91 cases of Lassa fever had been reported to the hospital.

“We have not lost anybody in the last two weeks. It was in the first week that we lost the three. In the wards now, we have 61 patients. Since this January till date, we have seen 91 patients. Sixty one are in the wards now. We have lost three patients since that time and the others have been discharged because they have recovered and gone home,” he said.

He added that more than 50 per cent of those on admission in the wards were from Edo State, mostly from Esan-North East, Etsako-West and Esan-West.

Others, according to him, are patients from neighbouring states like Delta and Kogi while the remaining ones are transferred from Ogun, Jigawa and Ondo states.

 Okogbenin dismissed the rumour that a youth corper from Asaba was dead, declaring that he was alive, responding to treatment and might be discharged very soon.

“The youth corper has not died, he is recovering, he has two sessions of dialysis and he is doing well and we do expect him to get better and go home. I’m saying this because some of his colleagues came here and said he had died. The doctor from Jalingo is also not dead, he is doing well. We have to dialise him and work on his kidneys and we do expect him to make a full recovery very soon. The pregnant women who came from Ogun State and the one from Owo are doing well. They have been delivered of their babies,” he said.

 Seven doctors and five nurses have been quarantined at the Federal Medical Centre, Yola, Adamawa State, following their contact with a patient diagnosed with Lassa fever.

 The Chief Medical Director, Prof. Auwal Abubakar, has yet to deny or dismiss claims that some of the medical officers treating the index patient, a pregnant mother, have been quarantined.

 This followed their contacts with patients, after test results on samples of specimens indicated the patient suffered from hemorrhagic fever, popularly known as ‘Lassa fever’.

Reliable sources at the health facility, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also told our reporter that the female patient transferred to the specialist hospital for infectious disease in Irrua, Edo State, died before results of specimen came out.

 The source said medical officers had to carry out medical procedures to save the woman’s life after she was brought in with symptoms of high fever and bleeding, adding that it was that procedure that was responsible for the high number of medical staff quarantined.

He said, “The medical team observed that the pregnant woman brought in with hemorrhagic fever needed to be stabilised. So they carried out a simple procedure to remove the foetus.

 “Since we don’t have the facility to test and confirm any suspected case of Lassa fever, sample specimen collected from the woman was sent to the Specialist Hospital for Infections Disease, Irrua; but the patient died yesterday, while the result showed the patients tested positive for hemorrhagic fever.”

Gombe declares one dead

  No fewer than seven Lassa fever cases have been reported in Gombe.

 The state Commissioner for Health, Dr Ahmed Gana, disclosed this on Tuesday, at a press conference organised by the health ministry.

He said, “As of this morning, January 28, 2020, we have a total of seven suspected cases, two of which are confirmed, while we are awaiting laboratory confirmation of the remaining four. Among these, two have died.”

Gana said one of the deaths had been attributed to Lassa fever while the cause of the other had not been confirmed.

 He said, “One death is confirmed to have been caused by Lassa virus while the cause of the other is unknown and one other already treated and discharged.

 “He was treated accordingly and was discharged on January 16. The second was brought unconscious from the Bayo LGA of Borno State and was admitted to the isolation ward of the teaching hospital on January 23, 2020 where he died on the same day. This morning, four patients are in the isolation ward.”

Gana said, “Gombe State Government is doing everything possible to protect its people from Lassa fever and any other health emergency in the state. Governor Inuwa Yahaya, has approved the procurement of additional commodities for effective prevention and management of the outbreak in the state, including free treatment and feeding of suspected and confirmed cases on admission.” he said.

Taraba doctor infected

A medical doctor with the Federal Medical Centre, Jalingo has tested positive to Lassa fever, the management of the hospital has confirmed.

Acting Head, Clinical Service of the hospital, Dr Ahmed Jatau, disclosed this on Tuesday to journalists.

 Jatau said, “We have sent 10 samples to the NCDC for testing. We had six positive cases, out of which four have died even before their results came in.

 “For the remaining two cases, one has been discharged while the other is our staff member and has been transferred to the Irruwa Specialist Hospital for further treatment.

The information from the specialist hospital is that he is doing well after the first dialysis session. We have also fumigated the house officers’ quarters against rodents.”

 Meanwhile, a civil society organisation in the state, Maigodiya Centre, has called on the government to do more to prevent fatalities.

The Director of the centre, Aliyu Tukur, noted that reactions to the yearly outbreak of the virus had led to recurrent fatalities, which he said could have been prevented if government had been proactive.

Tukur urged the government to sensitise the public and provide adequate health facilities to confirm and treat cases of Lassa fever in the country.

Adamawa asks residents to set rat traps

The Adamawa State Government has confirmed the death of one patient and asked citizens to set traps for rats.

Addressing journalists on Tuesday the state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Abdullahi Isa, said following the death of a female patient caused by Lassa fever, the state had activated emergency response measures to contain its spread.

He said dedicated lines had been opened and urged residents to get rid of rats from their homes and surroundings.

He advised residents to rid their homes of rats by setting traps to kill them. He stressed the need for good hygienic practices, like washing of hands, and storing foods away from rodents.

He said, “All relatives that came in contact with deceased patients were being monitored for the next 21 days, this is because the intervention period lasts 21 days.”

Isa urged the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and the Adamawa State Ministry of Health to reduce the risk of Lassa fever by advising residents to keep their environments clean at all times, and block all holes in the house to prevent rats from entering.

He said, “Cover your dustbins and dispose of refuse properly. Communities should set up dump sites very far from their homes to reduce the chances of having rodents within homes.

Store foodstuffs, like rice, garri, beans, corn/maize, in containers that are well covered with tight-fitting lids.

“Avoid drying food stuffs outside on the floor, roadside where they will be exposed to contamination.”

He added, “Avoid bush burning that can lead to the displacement of rats from bushes to human dwellings

“Wash your hands with soap under running water/or use of hand sanitisers when appropriate

Any febrile illness that has not responded to 48 hours use of anti-malaria or antibiotics should raise an index of suspicion for Lassa fever.”

by Olufemi Atoyebi, Sola Shittu, Hindi Livinus, Chima Azubuike and Justin Tyopuusu

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