Five people have been confirmed dead from the outbreak of Lassa fever in Benue State.
Program Officer, Risk Communication Desk, National Centre for Disease Control, Mrs Hanatu Bello confirmed this to journalists in Makurdi, Benue State capital on Friday.
According to the Programs Officer, reports of 21 suspected cases of Lassa fever were received from the state out of which eight cases were confirmed while five infected persons have also died.
“Since the beginning of the year, there have been 21 suspected cases of Lassa fever in Benue State. Eight cases were confirmed after laboratory tests and five deaths have so far been recorded.”
Mrs Bello said that the Centre received the information late as most patients who presented the symptoms got to the hospital rather late.
She added that as soon as the information was received, the rapid response unit of the centre swung into action to nip the situation in the bud.
“Lassa fever, though preventable, must be treated early. Lassa fever is caused by the body fluids of rats and once these body fluids contaminate our utensils, it can cause infection. Infected persons can also infect others and it only takes a few days to show signs and symptoms such as fever, sore throat, bloody diarrhoea, bleeding from the gums, bleeding into skin, eyes and urine,” she noted.
The program officer said that the Benue State University Teaching Hospital is the only medical facility that is attending to Lassa fever patients.
She, however, urged the general public to be proactive by observing both personal and environmental hygiene especially washing their hands.
“We must encourage people to wash their hands properly by observing the five steps of handwashing. Hand washing mush be with running water and not static water before cooking, after the use of toilet and while attending to sick people, before and after attending to cuts or wounds.
“We must discourage people from keeping trash in their house and we must constantly keep our surroundings clean and we must keep our trash bins covered so that they don’t attract rodents. We must also block rat holes in our house. Raw foodstuffs should also be properly covered,” she said.
Bello, who stated that the Emergency Operation Centre had already been activated in the state said the Centre was in Benue to respond to the Lassa fever outbreak in the state and also to a yet-to-be-identified illness in Okpokwu Local Government Area.