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Health: Lassa fever kills about 35 people in Nigeria

Lassa fever kills 35
At least 35 people have died in the latest outbreak of Lassa fever since November last year, the Federal Ministry of Health said on Wednesday.

A total 76 people were infected across eight states - Bauchi, Nasarawa, Niger, Taraba, Kano, Rivers, Edo and Oyo, health minister, Isaac Adewole, said at a news conference in Abuja.
Laboratory tests have confirmed 14 cases positive for Lassa fever in the past six weeks, he said.
Bauchi State reported the first case in November, shortly before Kano.  Those affected suffered acute fever with bleeding, he said.
Symptoms of the Lassa fever virus infection takes six to 21 days to manifest, though there are no symptoms in 80% of infections.
The disease, which begins gradually, progresses to affect several organs in the body such as the liver, spleen and kidneys.
Common symptoms include fever, general weakness and malaise followed by headache, sore throat, muscle pain, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, cough and bleeding from the mouth, nose, vagina or gastrointestinal tract and low blood pressure.
The “multimammate rat” called Mastomys natalensis, which has many breasts and lives in the bush and peri-residential areas, is the natural host of the Lassa virus which is shed in the urine and droppings and is transmitted through direct contact, touching objects or eating food contaminated with these materials or through cuts or sores.
Infections can also occur in hospitals when infection prevention and control practices are not observed.
“Person to person transmission also occurs, especially when a person comes in contact with the virus in the blood, tissue, secretions or excrements of an infected individual,” the ministry warned.
The health ministry has released a supply of the antiviral drug, Ribavirin, to affected states.
Rapid response teams have also been deployed to assist in investigating and verifying the cases and tracing of contacts.
Clinicians in affected states are also helping to manage patients and trace contacts amidst nationwide warnings for better hygiene practices.
“Nigeria has the capability to diagnose Lassa fever and all the cases reported so far were confirmed by our laboratories,” said Adewole.
The ministry has opened hotlines to contact epidemiologists and the federal health ministry in the event of cases suspected to be Lassa fever: 08093810105, 08163215251, 08031571667 and 08135050005.

Source: DailyTrust
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