Lassa fever kills one person in Ebonyi state

Ebonyi State government has confirmed the death of two persons in recent Lassa fever outbreak in the state this year.

The state’s commissioner for health, Daniel Umezuruike, gave the confirmation in Abakaliki on Saturday. According to him, 10 other cases have been recorded in the state, five of which have been treated and discharged.

The other five are still receiving treatment at the Virology Centre built by the state government at the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki. They are said to be in stable condition.

The commissioner said the two deaths were as a result of late presentation.

“One (of the victims) came from Enugu State. The deaths were due to late presentation, in fact, by the time the child came, he was already very bad, bleeding from different orifices, which is the terminal stage. But the medical workers tried all they could but could not salvage the patient. The second one actually died before presentation,” he said.

“The confirmed cases are 12. Five have been treated and discharged while five are on admission now doing very well.”

Mr Umezuruike said the Virology Centre, which is the only centre for such in the entire Southeast, has all the facilities to treat such diseases.

“The truth is that our management in the virology centre is almost like 100 percent success because we have the dialysis machines; we have all the facilities to test immediately and confirm whether the person has Lassa fever or not”

He, however, admonished residents and people of the region to always bring the suspected infected patients to the hospital on time so as to be able to save their lives.

“And once you confirm and commence treatment, the prognosis is always very good. Lassa fever is preventable and curable,” he said.

Lassa virus (LASV) is an arenavirus that causes Lassa hemorrhagic fever, a type of viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF), in humans and other primates. Lassa virus is an emerging virus and a select agent, requiring Biosafety Level 4-equivalent containment. It is endemic in West African countries, especially Sierra Leone, the Republic of Guinea, Nigeria, and Liberia, where the annual incidence of infection is between 300,000 and 500,000 cases, resulting in 5,000 deaths per year.

As of 2012 discoveries within the Mano River region of west Africa have expanded the endemic zone between the two known Lassa endemic regions, indicating that LASV is more widely distributed throughout the tropical wooded savannah ecozone in west Africa.[3] There are no approved vaccines against Lassa fever for use in humans.