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The outbreak of lassa fever in some Nigerian states seems to be gaining strength as the Federal Government confirms new death toll.  

The Federal Government on Friday in Abuja said the mortality rate of the re-emergence of Lassa fever has increased to 43.2% and has claimed the lives of five more people.
 
With the development, the death toll has now hit 40 as against 35 that was recorded on Thursday, thereby bringing the total number of reported cases to 86.
 
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, at a news conference, also stated that two more states, namely Plateau and Gombe, had been affected by the disease, which is in its sixth week. Meanwhile, laboratories have confirmed 17 cases, which are indicative of a new outbreak of the disease as 80 per cent of human infections are asymptomatic.
 
Adewole said, “The total number of reported cases, so far, is 86 while there have been 40 deaths, with a mortality rate of 43.2 per cent. Our laboratories have confirmed 17 cases, indicative of a new roundtrip of Lassa fever outbreak.”
 
According to him, modalities have been put in place to curb the spread of the disease, which can also occur and be transmitted in health facilities where infection prevention and control practices are not observed.
 
The measures, according to the Minister, include, “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.”
 
“We have deployed rapid response teams from the ministry to all the affected states to assist in investigating and verifying the cases, as well as tracing contacts. Clinicians and relevant health workers had been sensitised and mobilised in areas of patient management and care in the affected states, as well as intensifying awareness creation on the signs and symptoms, including preventive measures such as general hygiene.”
 
Adewole said Nigeria has the capability to diagnose Lassa fever as all reported cases were confirmed in the nation’s laboratories.
 
“However, due to the non-specific nature of Lassa fever symptoms and varied presentations, clinical diagnosis is often difficult and delayed, especially in the early course of the disease outbreak,” he added.
 
He, therefore, advised the public to “avoid contact with rodents/rats as well as food/objects contaminated with rats’ secretion and excretions.”


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