Lassa fever: Benue confirms 9 deaths, 46 confirmed cases

The Benue State Commissioner of Health, Dr Yanmar Ortese, says no fewer than nine persons have died following an outbreak of Lassa fever in the state,

He made this known to newsmen in Makurdi, the state capital, noting that 46 cases have been confirmed out of which five are health workers and four from the Internally Displaced Persons camp.
Speaking further on the issue, the State Epidemiologist, Dr Sam Ngishe said,” The report the Commissioner gave you is based on the situation report for week seven. We have not updated him on week eight.

“Altogether, at this moment as we speak, from results gotten so far, Benue has 46 cases of Lassa fever spread across seven local government areas that include Obi, Okpokwu, Gwer West, Makurdi, Guma, Gwer East and Ukum.

“It is actually an increase compared to what we had last year. So far, we have nine deaths in confirmed cases as we speak.

“We have been able to bury all the dead in accordance with safe burial protocols across the various areas of the state where they hail from. We have sustained response through the intervention of the Federal Government, the World Bank, and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

“They have spoken loudly to enhance our surveillance efforts, risk communication (creating social behaviour change) in communities and have also spoken to the laboratory component of the response and coordination.

“Now, we are hoping to reduce the numbers of the deaths such that the key fatality rate for the state is less than 10 per cent, which is what the national expects from all of the states. For now, what we have is above that figure.”

Ngishe disclosed that the first case was noticed in week 50 of the year 2023, and decried the shortage of personnel in the state.

He, however, said they are looking forward to enough staff capacity that will join and help in the course of response.

“We have reported cases in the IDP camps, precisely Ortese and we took several samples as well from the host community but we didn’t pick any other positive case from the samples taken.

“However, there is active surveillance going on in the community as you know, the IDP camp is a cluster setting with very poor infection control in terms of poor sanitation, a crowded environment, and they have issues of malnutrition.

“From our report so far, the IDP camp has a high population of rats; so if the rats transmitting such are within the IDP camps, it means that we need to work hard so we don’t have an outbreak that will be difficult to control.”

The specialist gave an assurance that the state is working together with partners to ensure that no humanitarian disaster more than what is already happening is recorded.


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