Edo state on Monday reported 30 clinically diagnosed cases of Lassa fever. This was revealed during the sensitization campaign against the increase of Lassa fever held in the area.

“About 30 persons have been infected with the disease in the council area. Lassa fever disease is fast spreading across the local government,” The Director, Primary Health Care Services in Etsako-West Local Government Area, Edo, Mr Innocent Alenoghena commented.

“Edo state has the highest number of persons infected with the disease with Etsako West topping the chart,” he added.

Lassa fever is more common in West African countries like Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Togo, Benin and Nigeria. The illness is caused by the Lassa fever virus with an incubation period of 6-21 days. It begins with symptoms like fever, followed by a headache, sore throat and body pain. Other high-risk symptoms may include diarrhoea, bleeding from the mouth, vagina or gastrointestinal tract, and low blood pressure.

There has been no clear method of preventing the outspread of Lassa fever, but cues such as healthy hygiene and a clean environment to avoid the breeding of rats are preventive measures to keeping Lassa fever under control.

Several actions have been taken towards reducing Lassa fever. In 2018, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control(NCDC) reactivated its Emergency Operations Centre, to coordinate the response to the outbreak on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Health.

The NCDC has also collaborated with the World Health Organization(WHO), Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, African Field Epidemiology Network, US Centers for Disease Control and other agencies, in supporting the affected area of Lassa fever.

The Local Government Council of Edo state has declared a state of emergency on the Lassa Fever epidemic. A high level of hygiene needs to be maintained, and consumables should be preserved in rodent-proof containers. Drying of food items on the road must be avoided as rats could urinate or defecate on them, Mr Alenoghena explained.

The cure to Lassa fever has been largely attributed to an antiviral drug called Ribavirin. It has been used with success in Lassa fever patients and has shown to be most effective when given early in the course of the illness.

The 30 patients in Edo state are currently being held at the Irrua Specialist Hospital, Irrua.

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