NewsBenue Records 5 Deaths, 555 Suspected Lassa Fever Cases - Commissioner

Benue Records 5 Deaths, 555 Suspected Lassa Fever Cases – Commissioner


March 02, (THEWILL) – Commissioner for Health and Human Services in Benue State, Dr Ortese Yanmar, has called on people of the State to observe preventive practices in the face of the Lassa Fever outbreak, even as five deaths and 555 suspected cases have been recorded in the state.

He said the Lassa virus from its host to humans can be prevented by avoidance of contact with Mastomys rodents (Bush Rats), putting food away in rodent-proof containers and keeping the home clean.

According to him, the importance of health preventive practices can not be overemphasised since Benue State is one of the states in Nigeria with the highest recorded cases of Lassa Fever.

The medical expert while in Abuja alongside his counterparts from other states of the Federation for the first quarterly meeting of the Nigeria Health Commissioners Forum, 2024, presented the issue of the Lassa fever outbreak in Benue State.

While at the meeting, they interacted with the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate, the Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare Dr Tunji Alausa, the Director General, Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Olajide Idris, National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA), National Health Insurance Agency, Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Muyi Aina, and the World Bank on the issue, IMPACT on Immunization and malaria program.

In a statement signed by the Media Aide to the Commissioner, Mr Phil Tor, the Commissioner noted before the Minister of Health and the Director General of NCDC that Benue State has recorded 555 suspected cases.

“35 of the cases are confirmed, 5 State workers, 4 IDPs, and 5 deaths have been recorded which sadly put Benue State on top of states with cases of Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria.”

The statement added that, during the interaction, the Commissioner’s counterparts from Adamawa and Oyo also reported that cases of Lassa fever have been recorded in their various states both linking to Benue State.

The commissioner for Health and Human Services of Adamawa State, reported a case in NYSC Orientation Camp which is currently ongoing, noting that unfortunately, the said corps member is from Benue State and has infected a roommate, while the Commissioner for Health from Oyo State, reported two cases from Ibadan, he said the two people boarded vehicles that came from Makurdi, the capital city of Benue State.

“With the established cases, Dr Ortese appealed to the Federal Government to equip the Molecular Laboratory built opposite Benue State University Teaching Hospital (BSUTH), with a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), Machine and also establish an Infection Disease Center”.

He explained that samples of suspected patients from Benue are taken to Abuja for Diagnosis which takes seven days before the result comes out.

He expressed his worry that some of the patients die before results are out, noting that sometimes a patient dies and the result comes out negative, and for every case of a suspected Lassa fever death, burial is according to NCDC directives and most times it does go well with the family members of a victim who sometimes refuse that their relative will not be buried in such a manner especially when the result is yet to be out.

He therefore, called on residents of Benue State to be cautious of the outbreak, saying if anyone has a fever, cough or diarrhoea should visit the Benue State University Teaching Hospital (BSUTH), which is the centre for managing Lassa Fever cases.

The Commissioner explained that Governor Alia’s administration is committed to protecting the lives of Benue People and enjoined all Benue indigenes to put all hands on deck so that the outbreak will be defeated in no distant time.

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