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BENUE: Death Toll Rises to 13 as Lassa Fever Spreads in 9 LGAs

The Benue State government has reported an alarming rise in Lassa fever cases, with the death toll reaching 13 across nine local government areas (LGAs) in the state.

Yanmar Ortese, the Commissioner of Health and Human Services, revealed this during a press conference in Makurdi. He emphasized the importance of public awareness, stating that early detection could significantly improve the chances of survival for victims.

Ortese cited data from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicating Nigeria has the highest number of reported Lassa Fever cases and deaths globally. Over the past few years, Nigeria has experienced numerous large outbreaks of the disease, with thousands of cases reported.

He provided details of the current outbreak in Benue State, noting a significant increase from 1% in November 2023 to March 2, 2024. The statistics included 725 suspected cases, 55 confirmed cases, and a Case Fatality Rate (CFR) of 23.6%. The affected LGAs are Makurdi, Guma, Gwer West, Gwer East, Okpokwu, Obi, Ogbadibo, Otukpo, and Ukum.

The commissioner expressed concern over the situation and called for collective action to halt the spread of the disease. He highlighted a particularly concerning incident in which four infected individuals were detected in one of the state’s IDP camps, emphasizing the vulnerability of this population due to overcrowding and poor hygiene.

Ortese commended the swift intervention of the disease outbreak response team, which successfully treated the confirmed cases and monitored their contacts for symptoms.

He also emphasized the importance of prevention measures, such as regular hand washing, avoiding contaminated food, and maintaining good hygiene practices. Healthcare workers were urged to maintain a high level of suspicion for fever cases and adhere to infection prevention and control measures.

In response to the escalating situation, the Benue State Ministry of Health activated a State multi-sectoral Emergency Operations Centre for Lassa Fever (LF-EOC). This activation aims to coordinate a comprehensive response across affected LGAs to mitigate the impact of the disease and prevent further transmission.

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