Lasser fever: Panic as Edo, Bauchi record 179 fresh cases

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MORE states embarked on drastic measures on Friday to check the Lassa fever outbreak in some parts of the country from spreading.

Edo State said 76 residents tested positive to the virus out of    175 suspected cases while Bauchi confirmed three new cases with 15 people under observation.

“A total of 76 suspected cases of Lassa fever were confirmed yesterday (Thursday) in the state and they are currently on admission in the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital,” Edo Health  Commissioner Patrick Okundia, said at  a Lassa fever committee meeting, chaired by the State Deputy Governor, Mr Philip Shaibu.

He added: “We have not recorded any new death but have also reduced our case fatality rate to less than 10 per cent.

“The number of cases in the ward now is 34, and we have discharged over 28 patients that have been fully treated and cured.”

The death toll remains eight.

Shuaibu directed all hospitals across the 18 local government areas of the state to refer all suspected cases to Irrua Specialist Hospital and isolation centres.

“Ministries of environment, agriculture, education, information, and other relevant ministries should also step up in the area of public awareness of the people,” he said.

“The 18 local government councils of the state should call for an emergency meeting, which will include private health practitioners for the purpose of early referral.

It was gathered that health officials were deployed to border communities to help prevent the spread of the disease.

The Deputy Governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Musa Ebomhiana, told reporters at the end of the meeting that the state government had approved the deployment of three ambulances to help in conveying patients to Lassa fever centres.

Additional centres are to be provided in Auchi and Benin City.

Musa said the state government also agreed to buy two additional dialysis machines to complement the one at Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital.

Three  fresh  cases recorded in Bauchi

The Executive Secretary Bauchi State  Primary Health Care Development Agency,  Dr. Rilwanu Mohammed, announced yesterday  that there were  three  fresh  cases of Lassa fever in the state.

15 people suspected of carrying the virus  are  under observation, he told reporters in Bauchi.

He  said  samples of the tests conducted on the  15 suspected cases have been sent to the National Disease Control Center in Abuja for authentication.

He, however, said that there is no record of any death in the state since the outbreak.

He traced the origin of the current challenge in the state to a Kano resident who  “came back to Bauchi to see her family and stayed for some days in Bauchi for some time and later traveled to a village in Toro LGA.

“So she went there and that was where the infection started but I don’t want to say anything more because as an epidemiologist, I don’t talk about what didn’t happen here in Bauchi. But the initial stage of the infection was Toro LGA.”

The Executive Secretary,  Mohammed lamented that  some children in a village in the state were  also seen selling rats for N100  saying the development will further increase the spread of the laser fever in the state if care is not taken.

Lassa fever fear grips Anambra

The Anambra State government  on Friday announced the setting up of an emergency response unit to deal with any Lassa fever case.

But there is no reported case  for now, according to Health  Commissioner,  Vincent Okpala.

He said there was no cause for alarm as government was ready to handle any Lassa fever infection.

He said Lassa fever remained a major public health challenge in West Africa with Nigeria bearing the highest burden., adding that more cases were recorded during the dry season i.e. November through May.

The commissioner spoke to reporters in Awka.

“We are at alert and fully prepared to respond to any outbreak of Lassa fever in the state. We have investigated and will continue to investigate rumors of outbreaks,” he said.

Yobe increases risk alertness level

Yobe State is increasing risk alertness level across the state, Health  Commissioner,  Lawan Gana Yusufari told The Nation.

He said his ministry,   in collaboration with other relevant ministries, has heightened the “risk alertness level” against Lassa fever in the state.

The commissioner  said all hands have to be on the deck in the state because of its proximity to Kano and Borno where cases of Lassa fever have been recorded.

His words:”In Yobe State, we don’t have any outbreak of Lassa fever at the moment. Not even a suspected case.

“We are not praying for one at all. But as you know, we have the outbreak in Kano and Borno State.

“We have however heightened out risk alertness level.

“We have started our response preparedness. As am talking to you now, we are having a meeting to strengthen our preparedness on the Lassa fever virus. We are going to launch a massive awareness creation across the state and raise the level of reportage on any suspected case in the rural communities

“We are also going to embark on the training of rural health educators. We have always had these measures in place but what we are doing now is to raise more awareness through a re-jigged mechanism since the virus is coming closer to us.”

Zulum propels Borno’s emergency response team

Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State   has asked  health professionals in the state to ensure the full containment of Lassa fever so that it  does not spread beyond the lone  case so far established.

Zulum also directed that special attention be accorded to government controlled camps and host communities associated with forced migration of internally displaced persons.

Special Adviser on Public Relations and Strategy, Malam Isa Gusau, said in a statement that the governor had called for briefing by the state’s Commissioner of Health and Human Resources, Dr Salisu Kwayabura, who gave assurance that the standing emergency response team had already been activated and there was no cause for alarm.

The team comprises the health commissioner as chairman, the chief medical director of the hospitals management board, an infection prevention group at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, officials of the World Health Organization, the UNICEF and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

Also in the response team are key officers in the state Ministry of Health, among them the Permanent Secretary, Executive Director of Primary Healthcare, the Incident Manager of a public health emergency operations centre, officers in charge of disease surveillance and notification and five directors in charge of public health, emergency response, medical services, nursing services as well as planning, research and statistics.

Zulum assured the commissioner that he will make available whatever was required as part of measures to guarantee the safety of public health across Borno State.

Katsina on highest alert level, says govt

The Katsina State Government yesterday declared that it had activated its strategic alert level in anticipation of any possible spread  of Lassa fever.

Health Commissioner  Nuhu Yakubu Danja told reporters in Katsina  that although the state is yet to record any case of Lassa fever,it was imperative to put in place  proactive measures to address any emergency health situation

He listed some of the proactive strategies to include constitution of standby special team on infectious disease, establishment of isolation centers for laboratory testing of suspected cases, embarking on drug procurements for the treatment of potential patients

Other measures include embarking on sensitization campaign through clerics, traditional rulers and community heads to raise the awareness level on causes and symptoms of the disease

The gernment is also taking measures to screen people entering the states particularly from neighboring Kano and other states as well other preventive measures and campaigns

He said ”we are liaising with Islamic and religious leaders to spread the awareness campaigns in churches and mosques and other stakeholders ,even at the rural and community levels to educate them on basic hygiene and environmental sanitation.”

The commissioner further acknowledged that though the state is yet to receive assistance from the Federal Government on the Lassa fever epidemic, it has gone ahead to draw up  work plans where it had itemized requirements and gone ahead with the procurement of basic equipment to prevent spread.

He further disclosed that the ministry of health through the Primary Health Care Development Agency, PHCDA, is working closely with the Nigerian Center for Disease Control, NSCDC, and colleagues from affected states

Osun gives marching order to LGs on grassroot sensitization

The Osun State government directed all local governments, local council development areas and administrative offices to immediately begin   grassroots sensitization of residents  on preventing   Lassa fever.

Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Prince Adebayo Adeleke and the Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Health, Pharmacist Olasiji Olamiju, conveyed the directive during an urgent meeting  with  the council chairmen in Osogbo yesterday.

Olamiju said the move was sequel to the spread of the disease in some states of the federation, including   neighbouring Ondo State where about 19 victims have reportedly died of the disease and many others on the danger list.

He said:”Part of the measures that should be reiterated to the people is the need to keep our environment clean, with a view to keeping  rats far away from houses and ensure that we always wash our hands.

“The health of the people is paramount to the administration of Governor Gboyega Oyetola and he wants every hand on the deck to ensure that the people of the state do not fall victim of the deadly disease.”

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