Toll in Nigeria’s Lassa fever outbreak rises to 40

Lagos, Jan 9 (IANS) The toll in the Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria has risen to 40, the government said.

Casualties were recorded in 10 states of the country, Xinhua quoted Minister of Health Isaac Adewole as saying on Friday.

Adewole advised communities to improve their hygiene, including food hygiene and food protection practices.

He also urged the public to avoid contact with rodents and rats and food contaminated with rats’ secretions and excretions.

The minister said affected states were advised to intensify awareness about the signs and symptoms of the disease.

According to him, the affected states were Bauchi, Nasarawa, Niger, Taraba, Kano, Rivers, Edo, Plateau, Gombe and Oyo.

He said the ministry had ordered the immediate release of adequate quantities of ribavirin, the specific anti-viral drug for Lassa fever, to the affected states for prompt treatment of cases.

Adewole said the ministry deployed rapid response teams to all affected states to assist in investigating and verifying the cases as well as tracing the contacts.

He said clinicians and relevant health care workers were sensitised and mobilised in areas of patient management and care.

Besides, he advised family members and health care workers to be careful and avoid contact with blood and body fluids while taking care of sick people infected by the disease.

He also directed health facilities in the country to emphasise routine infection prevention and control measures and ensure that all Lassa fever patients were treated for free.

Adewole said Nigeria has the capability to diagnose Lassa fever, adding that all the cases reported so far were confirmed by the laboratories.

The first case of the current outbreak was reported from Bauchi in November 2015. In 2012 also, Lassa fever claimed more than 40 lives in 12 states across Nigeria.

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