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Lassa fever: Epidemiologist advises Kwara residents on hygienic environment

Dr Michael Oguntoye, the Director, Kwara State Primary Health Care Development Agency, has advised residents of the state to maintain high level of hygiene to prevent them from contracting Lassa fever.

Dr Michael Oguntoye, the Director, Kwara State Primary Health Care Development Agency, has advised residents of the state to maintain high level of hygiene to prevent them from contracting Lassa fever.

Oguntoye gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Ilorin.

He defined Lassa fever as an animal-borne, zoonotic, acute and viral illness endemic in parts of West Africa including Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria.

He urged the people to ensure that their surroundings are always clean and not habitable for vectors to thrive.

He said that droppings from `multimammate’ rats that serve as hosts to Lassa fever could be very dangerous.

According to the epidemiologist, Lassa fever is caused by animals that are peri-domestic, while describing it as an acute, viral disease carried by a type of rat common in West Africa.

He said, “Lassa fever is a viral infection carried by the multimammate rat which is one of the most common rodents in Equatorial Africa, found across most sub-Saharan Africa.

“It gets into humans through contaminated foods or drinks. There is, therefore, the need for the public to maintain a good level of hygiene and try to always cover their food stuffs and drinks very well,” he said.

NAN reports that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) recently said that it registered 40 Lassa fever-related deaths in January, adding that four health workers were also infected following the latest outbreak of the disease across the country.

According to the agency, the 40 deaths and 981 cases were reported in January 2022 from across 43 local government areas in 14 states.

The public health agency said, “Cumulatively from Week 1 to Week 4 in 2022, 49 deaths have been reported with a case fatality rate of 19.0 per cent.

“In total, for January 2022, 14 states recorded at least one confirmed case across 43 local government areas. Of all confirmed cases, 82 per cent were from the following states– Ondo: 30 per cent; Edo, 27 per cent; and Bauchi 25 per cent.

“The predominant age-group affected is those from 21 years to 30 years.

“The number of suspected cases has increased compared to that reported for the same period in 2021.”

The centre also noted that, “four health workers have been infected so far; 233 cases undergoing treatment; 617 cases undergoing contact tracing while 968 have been listed for follow up.”

The agency added that the states with the suspected number of cases are; Edo, Ondo, Bauchi, Benue, Oyo, Taraba, Ebonyi, Kogi, Kaduna and Katsina.

Others include: Plateau, Cross River, Borno, Anambra, Bayelsa, Jigawa, Kebbi, Ogun, Kwara, Lagos, Delta, Gombe, FCT, Nasarawa, Rivers and Enugu.

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