LASSA FEVER -
The hospital record obtained by the Weekly Trust shows that 100 patients were brought to the institution in January 2013 alone, out of whom 40 died. According to the breakdown of the cases by the scientist at the research and documentation centre of the hospital, Ikponwonsa Ordia,
Ordia said that by the end of February 2013, the number of patients brought to the hospital had risen to 190, out of whom 100 died, while 30 are still in critical condition. He said these figures only represented cases brought to the hospital in Irruah, when the situation has gotten too bad to handle, explaining that many more must have died from the illness across the country. He said the victims from Taraba and
Chief medical director of the hospital, Professor George Akpede said although the outbreak has been reported in more than 13 states, the epidemic may be countrywide. Confirmed cases from affected states show that the death rate is higher than the official statistics had revealed. Reports from
Prof Akpede said there had been a 60 per cent increase in suspected cases and an 80 per cent increase in confirmed cases across the country. He said more than 51 million Nigerians are at risk, with the annual number of illnesses estimated at 3 million and the annual number of deaths estimated at about 58 330. He said 15-20 per cent of patients hospitalized for Lassa fever die from the illness. "The death rate during epidemic is, however, far higher, ranging between 30 and 60 per cent. The death rate is particularly high for women in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy and for the fetus, about 95 per cent of which die in the uterus of infected pregnant mothers," he revealed.
Former commissioner for health in Edo State Moses Momoh agreed that there is really a Lassa fever epidemic across the country. He said the disease, which is seasonal and restricted to
Worried by the upsurge of the disease, the federal government has sent an intervention team to some of the affected states to "investigate and put in place preventive measures to avoid the spread of the disease." Minister of health Onyebuchi Chukwu said the team went with drugs from the ministry and with personal protection equipment; they will investigate the cases. They will do contact tracing and mount environmental control. "Then, they will meet with the state officials to come up with information and education materials that can be distributed to people in their own languages," he said. The minister said the aim of distributing the information materials in the vernacular was to facilitate awareness on prevention.
However, experts, advice the federal government to find a lasting solution to the menace instead of waiting for an outbreak before deploying its men to affected areas. "Why would the government wait for an outbreak before it begins to think of printing information materials on prevention to residents of the affected areas? What purpose would that serve in the 1st place," a medical doctor with a private hospital in Jalingo, Dr Joseph Banjamin, queried. He said that for a disease that is seasonal, intervention was supposed to be an all-round thing. "Between last year  and now, what has really been done in the area of prevention across the country, especially since the areas prone to attacks are known? Are health centres more empowered to deal with the situation now than they were last year? How equipped is the specialist hospital in Irrua to deal with the spread?"
Director of administration of Irrua Specialist Hospital Mr Tony Edeko said the manpower and equipment available at the hospital are grossly inadequate to deal with the rising cases of Lassa fever. He said the hospital requires more isolation facilities and dialysis machines in addition to manpower to enable it to deal with the new reality. A former vice chancellor of the
The former AAU VC said funds donated by foreign donors for establishment of Lassa fever laboratories in each of the zones of the federation were collected by some officials of the Federal Ministry of Health but never accounted for.
Prof Agbonlahor said Lassa fever has claimed more lives than more publicized infectious diseases such as meningitis, HIV/AIDs, acute diarrhea, among others. He said over 100 000 lives had been lost to Lassa fever between 1969 and 2013, adding that many unrecorded deaths occurred in rural areas.
Prof Agbonlahor said 23 states in
Meanwhile, Dr Nasidi Abdulsalami, director, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, said there has been no new case of Lassa fever since drugs were sent to Ondo and
Communicated by: ProMED-mail
This review describes vividly the extent of the current epidemic of Lassa fever affecting central and northern Nigeria but neglects consideration of the fact that the reservoir host of Lassa virus is the rodent known as the "multimammate rat" belonging to the genus _ Mastomys_. These rodents produce large numbers of offspring and are numerous in the savannas and forests of west, central, and east
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