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One person has died of Lassa fever in Jigawa State. Twenty-six others are under surveillance. Commissioner for Health Dr Abba Zakari Umar confirmed this yesterday. He said the victim was suspected to have contacted the disease in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Dr. Umar explained that the Ministry of Health mobilised its Rapid Response Team (RRT), consisting of three Doctors, Disease Notification Officers (DNOs) and an Epidemiologist, to examine the victim and take his blood sample.
According to him, the blood sample was taken to Abuja where it was confirmed positive. The victim died the same day he reported to the hospital.
His words: “Unfortunately, about a week ago, 18-year-old Safiyanu Usaini from Gujubaki village in Dutse town, who traveled to Port Harcourt, reported to Dutse General Hospital, with signs and symptoms suggestive of Lassa fever.
“The hospital management alerted the Ministry of Health and a team of specialists was sent to check the patient. After examining him, his blood sample was taken to a Lassa fever laboratory in Abuja where it was confirmed positive. But, unfortunately, he died the same day.”
The commissioner said 26 persons were traced to have had contact with the victim and have been put under surveillance, adding that “we follow them up every three days”.
“We saw them on the 23rd and there was no problem, we saw them on 25th there was no problem, all were doing fine.”
Umar however said one of the contacts had fever when the team visited on the 26th, but the fever was not the classical symptom of Lassa fever.
The victim’s blood sample was taken to Abuja for further analysis.
Another case was confirmed in Lagos yesterday, bringing the number to four. The 27-year-old woman is awaiting burial.
According to the Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, the victim travelled to Edo State last December and returned to Lagos on January 2. She fell ill on January 14 and received care in a private hospital and three churches.
On January 23, she was referred to Ijede General Hospital with fever, vomiting, diarrhoea and body weakness; she died within a few hours of admission. She was confirmed to have died of Lassa fever on Tuesday.
Dr Idris said the body has been kept in the morgue in a leak proof body bag. She is to be buried after consultations with her family.
“To this effect, 90 persons have been listed as contacts of the last confirmed case and contact tracing is ongoing. So far, we have recorded 20 suspected cases as at January 26, since the outbreak of the disease last November.
“Fourteen suspected cases tested negative, four tested positive, while two are pending,” Idris said.
He said his ministry has line-listed 537 contacts of the confirmed cases, and 534 (99 per cent) of the contacts are being monitored.
He promised that the government would continue to provide quality, affordable and accessible healthcare to the people towards achieving universal healthcare to all. He assured the people that the battle against Lassa fever will be won, just as Ebola virus was defeated.
The commissioner urged residents to maintain basic environmental sanitation, dispose refuse properly and avoid open defecation