No fewer than 35 persons have died since the outbreak of Lassa Fever in about eight states across the country while 76 infected with the disease.
The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole disclosed this in a statement issued on Wednesday in Abuja.
He said another 14 cases of the disease had been confirmed by laboratories. The affected states include Bauchi, Nasarawa, Niger, Taraba, Kano, Rivers, Edo and Oyo states.
Adewole reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government to tackle the ailment before it becomes an epidemic.
“The Nigerian government will continue to enhance its surveillance and social health education, information and communication activities to prevent the disease from spreading further in Nigeria and I wish to call for the support and understanding of Nigerians, “the minister said.
According to Adewole, the total number of suspected cases so far reported is 76 with 35 deaths, and a Case Fatality Rate of 46 per cent. Our laboratories have confirmed 14 cases, indicative of a new episode of Lassa fever outbreak.
The first case of the current outbreak was reported from Bauchi State in November 2015, followed by cases reported by Kano State and subsequently the other six states.
Adewole added that in response to the reported outbreak, the Federal Government had taken some drastic measures to curtail further spread and reduce mortality.
The measures, he said, included immediate release of adequate quantities of ribavirin, the specific antiviral drug for Lassa Fever to all the affected states for prompt and adequate treatment of cases; and deployment of rapid response teams from the Federal Health Ministry to all the affected states to assist in investigating and verifying the cases and tracing of contacts.
The minister also said clinicians and relevant healthcare workers had been sensitised and mobilised in areas of patient management and care in the affected states, while
“affected states have been advised to intensify awareness creation on the signs and symptoms and general hygiene.”
“Furthermore, it is important to note that Nigeria has the capability to diagnose Lassa Fever and all the cases reported so far were confirmed by our laboratories. However, because the symptoms of Lassa Fever are so varied and non-specific, clinical diagnosis is often difficult, especially early in the course of the disease,” Adewole stressed.