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‘Lassa Fever: Don’t Panic’



NIGERIANS have been urged not to  panic over the current rise in cases of Lassa fever across country because the Centre for Disease Control  has initiated  adequate measures to check the disease.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) disclosed that it is on top of the matter on the  development in a statement by the Chief Executive Officer, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu , yesterday, in Abuja.
Ihekweazu said that in preparation for this year’s emergency phase, NCDC had been providing support to states, including emergency supplies and deployment of Rapid Response Teams.
He said that the RRTs would work with states in response coordination, contact tracing, case management, risk communication and strengthening infection prevention and control practices.
He said: “Recent epidemiological data shows that Lassa fever usually occurs during the dry season, between January and April.”
According to him, as at January 13, about 60 confirmed cases were reported in eight states.
He said: “Given this increase in reported cases of Lassa fever, the NCDC has declared this an outbreak and activated an Emergency Operations Centre to coordinate the response.”
He said that given the increase in reported cases, the NCDC declared it as an outbreak and activated an Emergency Operations Centre to coordinate the response.
Ihekweazu, therefore, advised members of the public to focus on prevention by practising good personal hygiene and proper environmental sanitation.
He said: “Take effective measures by storing grain and other foodstuffs in rodent-proof containers, disposing of garbage far from the home, maintaining clean households, and other measures to discourage rodents from entering homes.
“Hand washing should be practised frequently. The public is also advised to avoid bush burning.
“Health care workers are again reminded that Lassa fever presents initially like any other disease causing febrile illness such as malaria.
“Healthcare providers are advised to practise standard precautions at all times, and to maintain a high index of suspicion.”
Ihekweazu advised that Rapid Diagnostic Test must be applied to all suspected cases of malaria.
He said: “When the RDT is negative, other causes of febrile illness including Lassa fever should be considered. Accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment increases the chances of survival.
“The national guidelines for Infection Prevention and Control, as well as Lassa fever case management have been developed, disseminated to states and are available on the NCDC website for download.”
Ihekweazu reinstated Federal Government’s commitment to supporting all States’ public health teams to prevent and respond to public health threats.

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