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Lassa Fever Kills Nine with Fourty-six Confirmed Cases in Benue State

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Lassa Fever Delta

Dr. Yanmar Ortese, the Commissioner of Health for Benue State, has announced that the recent outbreak of Lassa fever has claimed the lives of at least nine persons in the region.

Speaking to reporters in the state capital of Makurdi, Dr. Ortese revealed that there had been 46 confirmed cases of the fever, with five of those affected being health workers and four from the Internally Displaced Person camp.

Dr. Sam Ngishe, the State Epidemiologist, provided further details, explaining that the current figures are based on the situation report for week seven, with updates for week eight pending. He elaborated that the confirmed cases have been identified across seven local government areas: Obi, Okpokwu, Gwer West, Makurdi, Guma, Gwer East, and Ukum.

He highlighted the concerning increase compared to the previous year, with nine confirmed deaths reported thus far. According to him, the deceased has been laid to rest in accordance with safe burial protocols, and efforts to combat the outbreak have been bolstered through collaboration with the Federal Government, the World Bank, and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Ngishe emphasized the need to reduce the fatality rate below 10 percent, as per national expectations. The first case was detected in week 50 of 2023, and Dr. Ngishe lamented the shortage of personnel in the state while expressing hope for additional support.

He stated:

“We have reported cases in the IDP camps, precisely Ortese, and we took several samples as well from the host community, but we didn’t pick any other positive case from the samples taken.

“However, there is active surveillance going on in the community as you know, the IDP camp is a cluster setting with very poor infection control in terms of poor sanitation, a crowded environment, and they have issues of malnutrition.

“From our report so far, the IDP camp has a high population of rats; so if the rats transmitting such are within the IDP camps, it means that we need to work hard so we don’t have an outbreak that will be difficult to control.”

Assurances were given that the state, in collaboration with its partners, is working diligently to mitigate the impact of the outbreak and prevent a humanitarian crisis.

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