Lassa fever kills 70 in 26 states, says NCDC

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has disclosed that 472 cases of Lassa fever have been confirmed, while 70 deaths have been recorded in 92 council areas of 26 states between January and February 9, 2020.

It also said no fewer than 14 health workers were affected within the period under review.

Assistant Director, Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Department of the NCDC, Dr. Kola Jinaidu, stated this at a one-day sensitisation seminar organised by Great Helping Hands Foundation in partnership with Oma Life Rescue Foundation (OLRF) in Kaduna with the theme, “Global Threats of Coronavirus and Lassa Fever, Awareness, Causes and Prevention.”

Jinaidu said symptoms of Lassa fever were more difficult to identify, particularly in non-epidemic period, adding that some of the symptoms include fatigue, general weakness, fever, headache, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, face swelling and low blood pressure.

He explained that Lassa fever could be transmitted through direct contact with urine, excreta, saliva or blood of infected rats, contact with objects, household items and surfaces or eating food contaminated with urine, feces, saliva or blood of infected rats.

Jinaidu further said person-to-person transmission by contact with blood, urine, feces, vomitus and other body fluids of infected person could occur.

He, however, said early treatment and diagnosis increase the chances of survival, stressing that preventive measures against Lassa fever include effective personal hygiene like frequent hand washing practices, use of hand sanitisers, proper environmental sanitation and rodent control measure.

On Coronavirus, he said contrary to insinuations that the disease was not in Africa, hundreds of thousands have been affected, while over 1000 deaths have been recorded in China.

Earlier, Kaduna State Commissioner of Health, who was represented by the Director of Public Health, noted that Lassa fever treatment in the state was free, stressing that it was no longer an epidemic, but has become endemic, adding that the state already has a rapid response team in place.

Meanwhile, Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) Dr. Gambo Aliyu, has said having multiple sexual partners and low HIV testing rates are increasing the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) vulnerability among youths in the country.

Aliyu lamented that only 17per cent of young people in the country know their HIV status.

As part of its awareness programme, he emphasised the importance of reducing the trend among Nigerian youths by encouraging faithful relationships for those who cannot abstain from sex and the use of condoms, which prevent Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and unwanted pregnancies.

He stressed the need for all Nigerians to know their HIV status, as it marks the entry point for prevention, treatment and care of HIV/AIDS.

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