Lassa fever claims 31 lives in Nigeria: minister

Other News Materials 6 February 2018 03:25 (UTC +04:00)

The current outbreak of Lassa fever in Nigeria has affected 15 states with 105 laboratory confirmed cases, three probable cases and 31 deaths, Minister of Health Isaac Adewole said Monday, Xinhua reported.

Nigeria recorded 77 cases of Lassa fever in 2018 alone, said Adewole at the Emergency National Council of Health in Abuja, the country's capital.

The cases were in Bauchi, Plateau, Taraba, Nasarawa, Benue, Kogi, Ebonyi, Rivers, Imo, Anambra, Edo, Delta, Ondo, Osun and Lagos states, he added.

The minister said 10 health care workers were affected in four states; seven in Ebonyi with one health worker from Nasarawa, Kogi and Benue states.

Adewole said of the 31 deaths from Lassa fever outbreak, four health workers died as a result of the disease; three deaths were recorded in Ebonyi and one in Kogi.

The minister said the meeting was summoned to discuss the state of public health challenges in Nigeria with focus on the challenges that bedeviled the nation in the past few weeks.

Adewole added that Lassa fever has been a current outbreak in the country, stressing that Nigeria has battled with series of outbreaks in the past few months.

He said Lassa fever has been persistent in the country over the past 30 years.

The minister appealed to the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) and other research institutes to look into the changing dynamics of Lassa fever.

"Lassa fever use to occur only during dry season but now we are contending with an all year transmission of Lassa fever," he added.

Lassa fever is a viral infection caused by the Lassa fever virus and the disease occurs all year round but more cases are recorded during the dry season.

It is spread through direct contact with urine, faeces, saliva or blood of infected rats, eating food or drinking contaminated water.

The disease can be prevented through enhanced personal hygiene, avoidance of all contact with rats (dead or alive) and keeping the house and surrounding clean.