Lassa fever kills 40 in Nigeria - Minister

Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - An outbreak of Lassa fever, an acute haemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus, has killed 40 people in 12 of Nigeria's 36 states, Minister of State for Health Muhammed Pate told a press conference in Abuja, the nation's capital, Tuesday.

The minister said the casualties were recorded from the 397 cases so far recorded, and listed the affected states as Gombe, Nasarawa, Taraba, Plateau and Yobe in the north, and Edo, Ebonyi, Ondo, Rivers, Anambra, Delta and Lagos in the south.

Minister Pate, who did not say when the outbreak started, said Edo, Nasarawa and Plateau were the endemic states, from where the disease was 'exported' to other states.

He said the ministry had taken drastic measures to curtail further spread and reduce mortality among those affected, including releasing quantities of ribavirin injections, the specific antiviral drug for Lassa fever, to all the affected states for prompt treatment of cases, stressing that it also deployed rapid response teams.

''The ministry has also distributed protective gloves as safety equipment for healthcare workers because it is a virus where if health workers are not protected when handling a case they can also get infected and that is an area that we can prevent,'' the minister said.

The primary animal host of the Lassa virus is the rodent.

The disease is endemic in West Africa, where between 300,000 and 500,000 cases are recorded annually.
-0- PANA SEG 21Feb2012

21 february 2012 15:30:17




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