16 persons in Nigeria have died of Lassa fever disease between January 1 and 21, 2018, Federal Government said on Wednesday.
In a statement made available to Nigeria Health Online by Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, said 107 cases of the disease were reported within the period.
The release said the cases were reported in 10 states namely Edo, Ondo, Bauchi, Nasarawa, Ebonyi, Anambra, Benue, Kogi, Imo and Lagos.
According to the organization, 61 of the reported cases were confirmed as at Monday 21 January.
Apart from the casualties, 10 health care workers were infected in four states, the statement said.
Affected states are: Ebonyi (7) Nasarawa (1) Kogi (1) and Benue (1) with three deaths in Ebonyi
NCDC said it had activated its Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to coordinate response to the outbreak on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Health in all states affected by the disease.
“The EOC has deployed Rapid Response Teams to the most affected state – Ebonyi, Ondo and Edo States. The RRTs are supporting the states in response coordination, contact tracing, case management, risk communication and strengthening infection prevention and control practices. Emergency supplies have also been sent to treatment centres in all affected States.
“NCDC is collaborating with the World Health Organization (WHO), Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, African Field Epidemiology Network, US Centers for Disease Control, University of Maryland Baltimore (UMB), Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA) and other agencies, in supporting the response in the affected states.
“Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness, transmitted to humans through contact with food or household items contaminated by infected rodents. Person-to-person transmission can also occur, particularly in hospital environment in the absence of adequate infection control measures. Health care workers in health facilities are particularly at risk of contracting the disease, especially where infection prevention and control procedures are not strictly adhered to.
“Lassa fever can be prevented through practicing good personal hygiene and proper environmental sanitation. Effective measures include storing grain and other foodstuffs in rodent-proof containers, disposing of garbage far from the home, maintaining clean households, and other measures to discourage rodents from entering homes. Hand washing should be practiced frequently.
“Health care workers are again reminded that Lassa fever presents initially like any other disease causing a febrile illness such as malaria; and are advised to practice standard precautions at all times, maintaining a high index of suspicion. Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) must be applied to all suspected cases of malaria.
“When the RDT is negative, other causes of febrile illness including Lassa fever should be considered. Accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment increase the chances of survival.
“Family members who are providing care for patients with Lassa fever should take extra caution. In addition, States are encouraged to ensure safe and dignified burial practices for patients who die from Lassa fever,” the statement said.