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Nigeria records reduction in Lassa outbreak – NCDC

Bukola Afeni

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control disclosed that there has been been a decline in the number of Lassa Fever outbreak in the last five weeks.
While stating that the country has witnessed reduction in the number of people who have died from the disease in 2018.
The Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, emphasized that the   agency and partners  will continue to sustain response activities in states across the country, despite progress made so far.
He stated this while briefing  journalist in Abuja.
The Director General charged the health workers  to maintain a high index of suspicion for Lassa fever when handling patients.
” Lassa fever should be considered in patients with fever, headache, sore throat and malaria, irrespective of the health status.  Health workers should adhere to standard precaution including wearing protective apparels when handling suspected Lassa fever patients.”
Speaking of measures to curtail the Lassa Fever outbreak, he said the agency has trained over One thousand health care workers in the six zones in the country on Lassa fever management, diagnosis and surveillance, together with the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital.
“The Prepositioning of treatment and diagnostic supplies to the 21 states that recorded cases in 2018, treatment centres and laboratories.
The Publication of Lassa fever messages on three major newspapers, weekly radio shows on Radio Nigeria, and intensive community engagement”.

The NCDC boss advised Nigerians  to practice preventive measures to avoid infection.
” Prevention of Lassa fever relies on promoting good community hygiene to discourage rodents from entering homes. Other effective measures include storing grains and other foodstuff in rodent-proof containers, proper disposal of garbage far from the home, maintaining clean households and frequent hand hygiene.”
He further added that all food should be well prepared, and family members should always be careful to avoid contact with blood and body fluids while caring for sick persons.
According to the DG,  in the next one year, Nigeria is expected to be part of clinical trials towards the development of Lassa fever vaccines.

“In January 2019, NCDC hosted the first Lassa fever International Conference. It brought together the largest gathering of researchers and professionals to discuss progress on Lassa fever”
“Nigeria introduced her national Lassa fever research plan and has been recognised as one of the leading stakeholders in global Lassa fever research.
Over the last six months, progress has been made in this area especially in discussions around Lassa fever vaccines. ”
The Lassa Fever EOC Incident manager, Chioma Nwafor said the health officers have been briefed on how to utilize the Lassa outbreak to dig deep, before the cases start going up.
“The infection and prevention rate strategy method is being implemented.
We know that if someone will get sick with Lassa Fever, the chances are  that they will go to the nearest Health care centre for test”
“We have been able to train every health care worker to be conversant with new cases of Lassa Fever outbreak”.

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