Nurse Allegedly Dies Of Lassa Fever

An outbreak of Lassa fever has allegedly claimed the life of Henry Ehimati, a male nurse working with Okomu Oil Palm Company staff clinic, located in Ovia South-West Local Government Area of Edo.

The victim, said to be in his 30s and married with a child, works at the clinic, but lives with his family at Upper Sakponba area of Benin whenever he was off duty.

A credible source told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Benin that a doctor in charge of the disease control at the clinic observed the victim.

The source said the medical doctor observed that the deceased was unusually weak and with high fever last week.

“By the time they admitted him at the clinic and run test on him, they detected that he had ‘2 plus’ malaria, with protein in his blood.

“As the fever got worse by the day, they then decided to transfer him to a private clinic in Benin City, last Saturday, where they also conducted several tests on him.

“When they suspected that he might be suffering from Lassa fever, they then decided to transfer him to the Lassa fever centre at Irrua Teaching Hospital.

“But he died at the clinic even before they could finalise arrangements to take him there,’’ according the source.

The State Commissioner for Health, Mr David Osifo, is yet to respond to calls and a text a message sent to his mobile phone.

The Managing Director of Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc, Mr Graham Heife, also failed to respond to a text message sent and call put to his mobile phone. (NAN)

Lassa Fever: Death Toll Hits 101

The Nigerian Center for Disease Control, NCDC has disclosed that about 101 people have died in 2018 due to Lassa fever disease.

In a situation report that was given by the health agency reveals that 408 cases of the disease had been confirmed from 20 states, where the disease has been active.

The states are Abia, Anambra, Bauchi, Benue, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Kogi, Lagos, Nasarawa, Ondo, Osun, Plateau, Rivers, Taraba and the Federal Capital Territory, with Edo, Ondo and Ebonyi having the highest reported cases.

The NCDC epidemiological report for week 14 since the disease started, shows that 408 cases have been classified as confirmed and nine probable cases, including 101 deaths. There are also 4,480 contacts identified through contact tracing of people who had got in contact with confirmed cases, from the 20 Lassa fever active states.

This year, the country is witnessing the largest outbreak ever of the disease since it was first discovered in Nigeria in 1969. However, NCDC’s epidemiological chart for this week indicates that there has been a steady decline compared to when it started, though there are still pocket outbreaks across the country.


Lassa Fever: 73 Death Recorded In 17 States

According to report published by the Nigeria Centers for Disease Control (NCDC) Abuja there has been 913 suspected cases of Lassa fever and 73 deaths in 17 states this year with Edo and Ondo bearing 75 per cent of the burden.

An earlier report, penultimate week, had put the figures at 615 suspected cases with 43 deaths. The unprecedented outbreak, in severe cases, causes facial swelling, fluid in the lung cavity, bleeding from the mouth, nose, vagina or gastrointestinal tract and low blood pressure.

Further reports have shown that cases of Lassa fever have rocketed by nearly 50 per cent in ten days (from 615 on February 13 to 913 on February 23). Another interesting thing is that the case fatality ratio (CFR) has increased from 15 per cent recorded by the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Fact Sheet on Lassa fever to 23.9 per cent by the NCDC.

According to the WHO, the antiviral drug ribavirin seems to be an effective treatment for Lassa fever if given early in the course of clinical illness. There is no evidence to support the role of ribavirin as post-exposure prophylactic treatment for Lassa fever.It is also gathered that there is currently no vaccine that protects against Lassa fever and only prompt detection and early onset of treatment can save patients’ lives.

This situation is unfolding just days after the WHO named the deadly virus in its list of pathogens that pose the most “urgent” threat to human existence.When contacted yesterday, the National Coordinator and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said: “The numbers are still increasing. We are doing everything possible to contain the situation. The facilities in the two states with 75 per cent of the burden are overstretched that is Irrua Specialist Hospital, Edo State, and Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Owo, Ondo. The situation is also bad in Ebonyi. We have to focus on prevention especially the health workers who are very vulnerable. They have to always use universal precaution.”

On why the Federal Government is always reactive and not proactive on this type of situations, the epidemiologist said: “Lassa fever is endemic in Nigeria. Humans usually become infected with Lassa virus from exposure to urine or faeces of infected Mastomys rats. Lassa virus may also be spread between humans through direct contact with the blood, urine, faeces, or other bodily secretions of a person infected with Lassa fever.’’Manager of the NCDC’s Lassa Fever Emergency Operations Centre, Elsie Ilori, said, “the situation currently ‘is overwhelming.”

In an interview with Bloomberg, she explained that the current outbreak is “more than what we have seen before.” Currently, Lassa fever testing is carried out across three laboratories in Nigeria. The NCDC has provided support for all testing laboratories with provision of reagents and other consumables. “It is hoped that in the near future, States are able to build and support laboratories to carry out Lassa fever testing.”


Lassa Fever: Osun Govt Cautions Against Panic

The state government of Osun has insisted that there is no reason for any citizen of the state to panic, saying there is no outbreak of Lassa fever in any part of the state.

It said there has not been any report about the disease by the state medical officials who are observing patients in hospitals.

In a statement by the State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Adelani Baderinwa said what has been reported was an isolated death case of a young man who came from a neighbouring state.

He said, the young man who was suspected of carrying Lassa fever disease from the neighbouring state died at the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex, Ile-Ife.

According to him, “As a proactive measure, the medical personnels had to quarantine those who had come in contact with the strayed deceased for observation. This is a normal medical procedure, and does not mean the quarantined people are possibly carrying Lassa fever disease.

“As at today, there has not been any other confirmed Lassa fever case except that of the young man from a neighbouring state that died at the OAUTHC

“All necessary steps to prevent the outbreak of this disease or any other one in Osun had been proactively taken. Filth and dirt’s are been regularly taken care of, while medical personnels had been on red alert to ensure that any unexpected disease outbreak is contained.

“As far as prevention is concerned, Osun government has been proactive while all curative efforts are already set in place.

“We urge people to make sure that their environment is clean and that they keep their foodstuffs away from rodents.

“The government urges the people not to panic, as there is no spread of Lassa fever in the state”, the commissioner stressed.


Combating Lassa Fever Outbreak

With the trend of things now, the fear of Lassa fever seems to be the beginning of wisdom. And despite the assurances from the Federal Government that all is well, many have continued to live in fear and rightly so as the available statistics of cases are staggering. There have been confirmed cases in Bauchi, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu, Kano, Nasarawa, Ogun, Rivers, and Taraba states with recorded deaths in Imo, Kogi, Ondo and Plateau states among others.

The disease which got its name from Lassa, a village in Borno State where it was first identified in 1969, occurs more in the dry season than in the rainy season. It is caused by a species of rodents called the Natal multimammate rat, the common African rat, or the African soft-furred rat. The Lassa virus is transmitted when the droppings, that is the urine or faeces of the rat – the natural reservoir for the virus – comes in contact with foodstuffs or in the process of the rat accessing grain stores, either in silos or in residences.

The rodents live in houses with humans and deposit excreta on floors, tables, beds and food. Consequently the virus is transmitted to humans through cuts and scratches, or inhaled via dust particles in the air. In some regions these rodents are also consumed as food. Secondary transmission of the virus between humans occurs through direct contact with infected blood or bodily secretions. This occurs mainly between individuals caring for sick patients, although anyone who comes into close contact with a person carrying the virus is at risk of infection. Nosocomial transmission, that is the transmission that occurs as a result of treatment in a hospital and outbreaks in healthcare facilities in endemic areas represents a significant burden on the healthcare system due to the high infectivity, morbidity and mortality associated with it.

In the early stages, Lassa fever is often misdiagnosed as common cold, typhoid or malaria, and as a result, many patients fail to receive appropriate medical treatment. Making a correct diagnosis of Lassa fever is made difficult by the wide spectrum of clinical effects that manifest, ranging from asymptomatic to multi-organ system failure and death. The onset of the illness is typically mild, with no specific symptoms that would distinguish it from other febrile illnesses. In 80 per cent of cases, the disease is without symptoms but in the remaining 20 per cent, it takes a complicated course. It has an incubation period of six to 21 days after which an acute illness develops.

Early signs include fever, headache and general body weakness, followed by sore throat, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhoea in some cases. After four to seven days, many patients will start to feel better, but a small minority will present with multi-organ involvement. It can affect the gastro intestinal tract causing nausea, vomiting and stooling of blood as well as difficulty in swallowing; cardiovascular system symptoms include hypertension or hypotension as well as abnormal high heart rate and shock. In the respiratory tract, the victim experiences chest pains, cough and difficulty in breathing. The virus also causes difficulty in hearing, meningitis and seizures. Other symptoms include oedema, hypertension, bleeding and shock. Death from Lassa fever most commonly occurs 10 to 14 days after symptom onset. Non-specific symptoms are facial swelling, and muscle fatigue, as well as conjunctivitis and mucosal bleeding. And one of the hallmarks of Lassa virus infection is the absence of functional antibodies during acute infection.

As mentioned earlier, clinical diagnosis of Lassa fever infections is difficult to distinguish from other viral haemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola and from more common febrile illnesses such as malaria, but, Lassa fever is most often diagnosed by using enzyme-linked immunosorbent serologic assays (ELISA), which detect IgM and IgG antibodies as well as Lassa antigen. Reverse transcription – PCR (RT-PCR) is routinely used for confirmation of cases. The virus is excreted in urine for 3- 9 weeks and in semen for three months. No vaccine for Lassa fever is currently available for use in humans.

There are three ways by which the virus can be treated and also prevented from further spread. These are implementation of barrier nursing, which is isolation of victims, tracing of people that have come in contact with sufferers as well as the initiation of treatment with the only available drug, Ribavirin. The latter is only effective if administered early, within the first six days after disease onset.

Therefore, it is essential that preventive measures be put in place to prevent this fatal disease. Firstly, the primary source of transmitting the disease to humans should be prevented. This can be possible through avoiding contact with rats – particularly in the geographic areas where outbreaks happen. Putting food away in rat-proof containers and keeping your home clean help with discouraging rats from entering your home. Using these rats as a source of food is definitely not recommended. Trapping around and in homes, may help to reduce rat population.


Osun Commissioner Denies Reports Of Lassa Fever

The State Government of Osun on Tuesday debunked rumors of an outbreak of Lassa fever in the state.

The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Adelani Baderinwa made the disclosure in press statement.

According to the statement “the state government of Osun wishes to inform the general public that there is no outbreak of Lassa fever in any part of the state. There has not been any report on the spread of the disease by our medical personnel who are observing patients in hospitals.”

“There is no reason for anybody to panic on the report of a suspected Lassa fever case in the state. What was reported is an isolated death case of a young man who came from a neighbouring state. The young man who was suspected of carrying Lassa fever disease from the neighbouring state died at the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex, Ile-Ife.”

“As a proactive measure, the medical personnel had to quarantine those who had contact with the strayed deceased for observation. This is a normal medical procedure, and does not mean the quarantined people are possibly carrying lassa fever disease. As at today, there has not been any other confirmed Lassa fever case except that of the young man from a neighbouring state that died at the OAUTHC”

“All necessary steps to prevent the outbreak of this disease or any other one in Osun had been pro actively taken. Filth and dirt’s are been regularly taken care of, while medical personnel had been on red alert to ensure any unexpected disease outbreak is contained.”

Baderinwa however urged the people to ensure environmental sanitation and keep their foodstuffs away from rodents.

HEALTH With Francis Ezediuno: Govt Insists No Lassa Fever In Osun


  • Only Case Imported From Ondo

Even as Lassa fever is repeatedly ravaging in some states in Nigeria, the State of Osun government has assured its citizens that there was no outbreak of the dreaded disease in the state.

This was made known by Dr. Adeola Musa, State Epidemiologist, Osun State Ministry of Health recently in Osogbo.

Dr. Musa revealed that due to the proactiveness of the state government, no Lassa fever case has been recorded in the state.

While reassuring residents of their safety, she also revealed that the earlier reported incident of a Lassa fever case at the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex (OAUTHC), Ile-Ife, was imported from Ondo state as the patient did not contract the disease from Osun.

The Epidemiologist also revealed that communication channels have been opened up between the State of Osun and Ondo state so as to commence contact tracing of people who had come in contact with the patient.

On how the disease is transmitted, Dr. Musa revealed that it is mostly contracted from rodents which are the primary vector and then to human beings.

“The rodent especially rat is the vector and since most of them are found within human environment, Lassa fever is transferred from them to humans”, adding that the incubation period for Lassa fever is between 2 to 21 days.

“A way of preventing this disease is by engaging in hand washing especially after touching droplets or urine of these rodents and maintaining a high level of hygiene amongst our people.

She warned that in case of any feverish condition witnessed amongst individuals in a locality, it should be reported to the nearest health facility where proper investigation would be carried out to ascertain whether it was Lassa fever or not, adding that people should desist from using their hands as thermometers as this has a very high risk on transferring any infectious disease from one person to the other.

While recalling how the state government in time past had worked tirelessly to ensure that diseases such as Ebola fever and monkey pox which affected some states in the country did not occur in Osun, the state epidemiologist commended the government and charged the citizens to always work with the authorities in their efforts to provide affordable health care to its people.


(LETTER TO THE EDITOR) Lassa Fever Outbreak: An Awareness Campaign


Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness of 2-21 days duration that occurs in Nigeria.

Since the beginning of 2018, a total number of 107 suspected Lassa fever cases have been recorded in ten states: Edo, Ondo, Bauchi, Nasarawa, Ebonyi, Anambra, Benue, Kogi, Imo and Lagos State.

The illness is transmitted to humans through contact with food or household items contaminated by infected rodents. Person-to-person transmission can also occur, particularly in hospital environment in the absence of adequate infection control measures. Health care workers in health facilities are particularly at risk of contracting the disease, especially where infection prevention and control procedures are not strictly adhered to.

Lassa fever can be prevented through food and personal hygiene and proper environmental sanitation.

Effective measures include storing grain and other food stuff in rodent-proof containers, disposing of garbage far from the home, maintain clean households, and other means of preventing rodents (rats, mice, squirrels, marmots) from entering homes. Hand washing should also be practiced always.

Family members who are providing care for patients with Lassa Fever should take extra care for patients with Lassa Fever. States are also encouraged to ensure safe and dignified burial practises for patients who die from Lassa Fever.

I want to urge the people not to panic, but in case of any noticeable or relative symptoms of the disease, the health officials are the ones to be called upon.


Lassa Fever: Death Toll Rises In Ondo State

At least nine death cases have been recorded in Ondo State following a recent outbreak of Lassa fever.

Governor of the state Rotimi Akeredolu made s statement to the people informing them of the steps that have been taken to stop the spread. Confirming the casualties rate, the governor said nine persons have been confirmed dead and 102 others under watch.

Akeredolu said: “A total of 102 suspected cases of Lassa fever have been reported in eight local government areas of Ondo State. Out of the figure, 36 of the 79 cases with laboratory results have been confirmed, including nine deaths.

At present, 127 Hospital Contacts and 308 Community Contacts were line-listed in all the affected local government areas while 30 have completed their follow-up.

He said patients are being managed at the Federal Medical Centre, Owo, while confirmatory tests are done at Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Irrua, Edo State.

To contain the spread of the disease, Akeredolu said, an Emergency Preparedness and Response Team has been reactivated at both the state and local government levels in addition to active surveillance and contact tracing in the affected council areas.

He added that sensitization and community mobilization are going on in all council areas for traditional rulers, religious leaders, political leaders, market women and other stakeholders.

“Publicity is also ongoing through radio jingles, radio and television discussions in our media houses.

“Information, education and communication materials such as handbills, flyers and posters have been produced and these are being distributed,” he said.

He also said vehicles have been dedicated for transportation of samples and referred patients to Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospitals, Irrua, Edo State just as the Infectious Disease Isolation Unit at the Federal Medical Centre, Owo has been expanded through support of his administration.

“Some Personal Protective Equipment, PPE, Drugs, and hospital beds were donated to FMC, Owo to support the management of the patients,” the governor said.


No Outbreak Of Lassa Fever In Osun – Govt. Affirms

By Nofisat Marindoti

The State Government of Osun has debunked the news circulating that there is an outbreak of Lassa Fever which has claimed the lives of two people in the state.

In a statement signed by the Media Adviser to the Governor, Mr Sola Fasure, the state government urged the people not to panic as the news is totally false.

The State government however disclosed that someone has really died of the disease but added that the deceased was not a native of the state.

According to the statement,”The State Government of Osun will like to assure the good people of Osun that there has been no outbreak of Lassa Fever in the state.

“However, a patient from Ore, in Ondo State, with symptoms of Lassa Fever went to Seventh Day Adventist Hospital in Ile-Ife for treatment and was immediately transferred to Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital where he regrettably died, due to the advanced nature of the sickness. May his soul rest in peace.

“We must note however that the victim was not native to Osun and did not contact Lassa Fever in the state. This will put paid to the false messages going round in the social media that there has been an outbreak of Lassa Fever in Osun which has claimed the lives of two people. This is false. The state government admonishes residents not to panic or engage in rumour mongering.”

Urging the people to be vigilant, the State Government also implored them to keep food away from contamination from rats; and keep rats and other rodents from homes or other places where they can come in contact with food items.

“Lassa fever is an acute viral infection. The virus is transmitted from the faeces and urine of rats when they come in contact with food and the food is eaten.

“This disease is associated with bleeding and can affect any age group. The incubation period, that is, the time from when contact is made with the virus and when its effects start to show on the body, is between 3 to 21 days.

“Any person with severe illness, fever and at least one of the following signs: Bloody stools, vomiting blood and unexplained bleeding from gums, nose, private parts, skin and eyes should immediately go to a hospital.

“Any person who has unexplained illness with fever and bleeding OR died after unexplained severe illness with fever and bleeding should report or be reported to the nearest government hospital or health centre.

“The state government has put a surveillance system in place at all LGAs and State EPR Committee. Residents should take note and observe visitors from neighbouring states for symptoms of Lassa Fever and report to the nearest health centre when and where such are found.

“Residents are required to be vigilant, maintain the highest hygiene standard possible, avoid contact with those affected and report illnesses and deaths emanating from the disease to hospitals and government health centres,” the statement added

Lassa Fever: No Cause For Alarm – Osun Govt

By Nofisat Marindoti

Following the report of suspected cases of Lassa Fever in Ilesa and Ile-Ife towns in the State of Osun, the State Government has urged the citizens not to panic, stressing that the situation is under control.

During a radio programme monitored by Osun Defender, a medical practitioner from the state ministry of health and the state epidermologist, Dr Adeola Musa said only one out of the five cases has tested positive but added that the ministry is still awaiting the result of final confirmation test to really confirm the disease.

She also revealed that the disease was imported into the state as the only patient suspected to really have it came from Ondo State.

Recalling that this would be the second time a viral disease would be coming from Ondo State, Dr Adeola stated that the State Government is putting adequate precautions in place and that there is a synergy between the two State Governments on the particular patient.

Assuring that there is no cause for alarm, the medical practitioner however urged the people to maintain a high level of hygiene and report any strange or persistent fever to appropriate quarters as soon as possible.

“I will encourage our people to have a high level of hygiene, to beware of rodents and maintain high level of precaution. We should also wash our hands regularly, the importance of regular handwashing cannot be over emphasized. We should also have high index of suspicion and report any strange illness.

“People who have fever should go beyond just having Malaria treatment, we should be over the counter treatment and stop spreading food on the main roads.” she added.