About 100 cases of Lassa fever have been reported in different parts of Ondo State, raising fear of looming epidemic.
The Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Dr. Ayo Oladapo, who alerted Christians about the outbreak, said there was the need to keep houses clean to prevent the spread. Oladapo said about 80 cases had been confirmed by government.
However, a source in the health sector told journalists that not less than 100 cases had been reported in different hospitals in the state.
Mostly affected, he said, were the towns which shared borders with Edo and Kogi states. “I have just been informed through the representative of government that there is an outbreak of Lassa fever in the state. “About 80 cases have been confirmed.
All our churches should please sensitise their members to cover their food properly and eradicate the existence of rats in their vicinities. “Announcement should be made on pulpits and in all our services. May God deliver us all from all deadly diseases in Jesus name,” Oladapo said in a statement. In response to the scourge, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu has inaugurated an Emergency Response Committee to tackle the dreaded disease.
The committee, chaired by the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Wahab Adegbenro, has the General Manager of the State Waste Management Authority, Mrs. Bola Akinyanmi, as secretary. Other members of the committee are the Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Funso Esan, Special Adviser to the governor on Union Matters, Mr. Alaba Isijola, Chairman, Caretaker Committee of Owo Local Government Area, Hon. Benjamin Adebayo, Acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Dipo Durojaye, Managing Director, ZL Global Limited, Dr. Abiola Bashorun and Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Yemi Olowolabi, among others.
Akeredolu charged the committee to ensure that Lassa fever is flushed out of the state within the shortest possible time, and to embark on campaigns, advocacy visits to royal fathers and religious leaders and to identify an appropriate dump site for human wastes. Addressing reporters after its inaugural meeting, Adegbenro said the committee was empowered to use all means available to it to check attempts by anyone who might want to inhibit efforts at curtailing Lassa fever in the state.
The chairman said the sensitisation campaigns would be to crisscross the state on the need for residents to keep their environment clean and live hygienic lives at all times so that the primary carrier of the Lassa virus would not live in homes and to reduce human to human transmission. He said: “Our people need to maintain cleaner environment.
Shun the habit of indiscriminate dumping of refuse around your homes so as not to attract rats. Government has set in motion immediate plans to evacuate all dumpsites to keep rats far away. “The original source is from rats to human, but we have lots of human to human transmission and this is more reason why it is imperative to report any suspicious case to nearest health facility where necessary tests would be carried out to ascertain if it is malaria or not so as to have such patient appropriately referred.
“It is part of our culture to care for our sick ones, but while doing that, we must be very careful bearing in mind, the outbreak of this deadly disease.”
Adegbenro said early detection and treatment of Lassa fever, which he explained, has symptomatic evidence similar to malaria, would avoid its devastating effects like organs and kidney failure which could be life-threatening and lead to death.
He explained that visiting health facilities where appropriate diagnosis would be carried out, rather than administering treatment at home, self-medication, remained the best way to detect the scourge earlier and prevent deaths.
The commissioner listed Lassa fever symptoms to include abdominal pains, diarrhoea and vomiting with blood stains while muriatic rashes in the body which occur at the advanced stage of the disease. He appealed to security agencies to ensure that people adhere to rules and regulations of operations as rights of individuals are suspended during outbreak.