Anthony Etim, a doctor working with Doctors without Borders in Jigwa State, has contacted the Lassa virus, following an official visit to the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, camp in Borno State.
Confirming the development to Premium Times on Sunday, the acting permanent secretary, Jigawa State Ministry of health, Salisu Mu’azu, said the victim is now being treated at the isolated Infectious Disease Control unit at a hospital in Jahun local government area of the state.
Casualties so far
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, had disclosed that 29 deaths and 195 confirmed cases of Lassa fever had been reported in 11 states of the federation.
Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General, NCDC, who disclosed this in a statement he signed on Saturday in Abuja, explained that the current figures were as at Friday, January 24.
Mr Ihekweazu, said out of the confirmed cases, 89 per cent were from Ondo, Edo and Ebonyi States.
The NCDC boss said that the increased number of cases at this time of the year was not unusual due to ecological factors.
He said that in response to the increasing number of Lassa fever cases across the states in the country, NCDC activated a National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) on Friday to coordinate response activities.
Mr Ihekweazu said that the EOC includes representatives from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Federal Ministry of Environment, World Health Organisation, UNICEF, US Centres for Disease Control, and other partners.
He said that NCDC would continue to support states in strengthening their preparedness and response capacity.
He added that over the last three weeks, NCDC had deployed Rapid Response Teams to support five of the affected states.
According to him, Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, led a high-level delegation to Kano State on Saturday, following the deaths of two health workers infected with Lassa fever.
The NCDC DG added that the centre had rapidly increased risk communications and community engagement activities to ensure that Nigerians were aware of the risks of Lassa fever and measures to protect themselves.
He, however, said that there had been a decline in the fatality rate of the reported Lassa fever cases from 23.4 per cent in 2019 to 14.8 per cent this year.
“NCDC continues to support treatment centres across states in the country to effectively manage Lassa fever cases,” he said.
He explained that five laboratories in Nigeria have the capacity to diagnose Lassa fever in the country.
Mr Ihekweazu said that the laboratories were critical to reducing turnaround time between identifying a suspected case and confirmation.
According to him, it will ensure prompt case management and other response activities in order to reduce the number of deaths.
“Nigeria is contributing to research and other activities for the development of a Lassa fever vaccine.
“Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Federal Medical Centre Owo and Alex Ekwueme Federal Teaching Hospital Abakalilki- are set to commence Lassa fever epidemiological studies that will provide data to guide research and response activities.
“NCDC remains committed to protecting the health of Nigerians, it is important for Nigerians to practice good hygiene and take measures to protect themselves and their families,” he said.