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“Lassa Fever Can Affect Anyone Anywhere” — FG Advises Nigerians To Be Vigilant

The Federal Government has advised Nigerians to be vigilant to prevent Lassa fever.

Speaking at the national briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Thursday, Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, stated that the fever can affect anyone anywhere.

He also expressed satisfaction as the number of active cases of COVID-19 continue to reduce as more persons are being discharged.

The minister noted that while efforts are being taken to contain the spread of the disease, Nigerians must keep their eyes on other life-threatening diseases such as Lassa fever.

Ehanire disclosed that 1131 confirmed cases of Lassa fever have been recorded across the country in 2020, of which 233 deaths have been recorded.

He advised anyone with symptoms of the fever to report to a hospital early so they can have a better chance of surviving it.

“While we strive to contain the spread of the disease [COVID-19], we continue to keep our eyes on other diseases that threaten the health of our people,” the minister said.

“One of such diseases is Lassa fever which is a viral haemorrhagic disease characterized by one or more of the following symptoms: malaise, fever, headache, sore throat, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pain, chest pain, hearing loss.

“So far this year, we have recorded 1131 confirmed cases in 27 states. This year, we have recorded 233 deaths with a case fatality rate (CFR) of 20.6%. This is slightly lower than the CFR for the same period in 2019 (21.0%).

“Although nearly three-quarters of the confirmed cases are in Ondo state, Lassa fever can affect anyone anywhere. We therefore advise all to be vigilant and especially as we approach the season when we usually record increased incidence. We know that fatality is lower if the patients report early for treatment.

“We therefore advise that any individual presenting with the above symptoms and with either a history of contact with excreta or urine of rodents or history of contact with a probable or confirmed Lassa fever case within a period of 21 days of onset of symptoms or any person with inexplicable bleeding to visit the nearest health facility immediately for testing and treatment.”

Ehanire also disclosed that the government is investigating the incidence of unexplained deaths in Delta and Enugu States.

“Our team of experts have been dispatched to the states to support the state investigation. In Delta State, 23 cases have been reported with 17 deaths while in Enugu State, 51 deaths have been reported. In both states, most of the affected cases are males aged between 1-55 years,” he said.

“Most reported cases presented with fever, headache, fatigue, and weakness, jaundice, abdominal pain, vomiting (with or without blood), nose bleeding, blood in stools/urine, convulsions and unconsciousness.

“As at the 6th of November, three samples from Delta and one sample from Enugu have been confirmed positive for yellow fever. We shall provide further updates at subsequent briefing.”

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