Dr Kunden Deyin, the Plateau Commissioner for Health says the state has recorded 28 new cases of Lassa fever with 10 deaths. Deyin told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Jos on Thursday that 64 cases were taken to the laboratory for confirmation out of which 28 were confirmed to be Lassa fever. He said that one of the confirmed cases was imported from Kaduna State, adding that most of the affected persons are responding to treatments. He advised people to report immediately to the nearest health facility, whenever they had indications of any form of fever. “Lassa fever presents like any other fever, with symptoms such as headache, body pain and general feeling of being unwell. “Therefore, anyone who is felling feverish should visit the hospital immediately.
“Prompt presentation is the key to reducing the mortality rate associated with the disease, but most times, patients do come to the hospitals late. “However, all health workers should make referrals to other health facilities such as the tertiary health facilities, when you cannot handle such cases like Lassa fever that require prompt medical attention”. Deyin also advised that people should learn to keep their environment clean and ensure that it is not rodent friendly. He equally advised the residents to store all grains in rodent-proof containers.Lassa fever, also known as Lassa hemorrhagic fever (LHF), is a type of viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus.Many of those infected by the virus do not develop symptoms. When symptoms occur they typically include fever, weakness, headaches, vomiting, and muscle pains. Less commonly there may be bleeding from the mouth or gastrointestinal tract. The risk of death once infected is about one percent and frequently occurs within two weeks of the onset of symptoms. Among those who survive about a quarter have hearing loss, which improves over time in about half.The disease is usually initially spread to people via contact with the urine or feces of an infected multimammate rat. Spread can then occur via direct contact between people. Diagnosis based on symptoms is difficult. Confirmation is by laboratory testing to detect the virus’s RNA, antibodies for the virus, or the virus itself in cell culture. Other conditions that may present similarly include Ebola, malaria, typhoid fever, and yellow fever. The Lassa virus is a member of the Arenaviridae family of viruses. There is no vaccine. Prevention requires isolating those who are infected and decreasing contact with the rats. Other efforts to control the spread of disease include having a cat to hunt vermin, and storing food in sealed containers. Treatment is directed at addressing dehydration and improving symptoms. The antiviral medication ribavirin may be useful when given early. These measures improve outcomes. Descriptions of the disease date from the 1950s. The virus was first described in 1969 from a case in the town of Lassa, in Borno State, Nigeria. Lassa fever is relatively common in West Africa including the countries of Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Ghana.[There are about 300,000 to 500,000 cases which result in 5,000 deaths a year.
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