Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) (doctors without borders) appeals as Lassa fever ravages Nigeria

Health lobby group Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) (doctors without borders) has appealed for proactive vigilance against Lassa fever in Nigeria.

MSF said the fever had since December last year claimed 101 lives, including five medical doctors.

Field Communication Manager Maro Verli, said in Maiduguri in northern Nigeria that 1,781 suspected cases of the disease were recorded at various facilities between last December and last month.

“The current outbreak is the largest in recent years, with 1,781 suspected cases; of which 408 were confirmed.
The outbreak

“However, the number of cases reporting to health facilities has declined in the recent weeks according to figures from the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control,” said Mr Verli.

“Health workers have also been affected by the outbreak, with deaths occurring amongst nurses, healthcare assistants and doctors become infected by treating patients who were not aware they had the disease or by working without adequate protective equipment such as gowns, gloves and masks”.

The MSF official stressed that vigilance was required despite reduction of the cases in the past two months.

He explained that lass fever could first appear with mild symptoms, but if people were worried that they might be infected, they should visit the nearest health centre.

Was shameful

“Lassa is a viral haemorrhagic fever that occurs every year in Nigeria between December and March.

“The disease is spread to humans through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected rat and could then spread between people in the same way,” he explained.

Meanwhile, residents of Abuja on Saturday appealed to the Federal Government to provide malaria vaccine available to arrest the spread of the disease.

Mrs Christiana Obande, a civil servant said it was shameful that Nigeria could not provide malaria vaccine despite the danger it posed to the citizenry.

A study showed that several malaria vaccine trials were being conducted across the globe but none from malaria had been recognised by the World Health Organisation, (WHO).

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