A health practitioner inspecting a rat possibly infected with lassa

Lassa Fever Leaves 20 Dead; Others Hospitalized In Kogi

A Lassa fever outbreak in Aya in Machagba communities, Ibaji Local Government Area of Kogi State has led to the death of at least 20 people while others who have reportedly contracted the dreaded disease in the state are currently receiving treatment at the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital in Edo State. The outbreak of the fever is said to have caused quite a panic in the local government area where there are no functional hospitals to take care of the disease.

David Inah Ogwu, the former Chairman of Ibaji LGA, explained that the situation was real and that there were incidences of Lassa fever in Aya and neighbouring communities in the council area. Mr. Ogwu pointed out that the first incident had led to the death of four people who had died mysteriously without anybody being able to diagnose the disease or cause of their death, and thereafter others who manifested similar symptoms were taken to Irua Specialist Hospital. The Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital is the fastest access to treatment in Edo State.

“It’s easier for the people in those communities to just cross the river and get to Uromi and from there to Irua for their treatment. About nine persons have been diagnosed to have the Lassa fever in the hospital in Irua. The first set of people that went there was about 22 and of the 22, nine were confirmed to have the disease. So, seven of them are there right now being treated for Lassa fever, though their condition is not too critical. It is confirmed by the medical facility in Irua that what they have diagnosed and are treating is Lassa fever.”


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“So far we can say that the casualty figure is about 20. Cumulatively or speculatively, 20 people have died. Our people find it easier to go to Irrua because it is the medical facility that can diagnose and treat it. We are saying speculatively because some other people that died though with symptoms of Lassa fever but nobody can say specifically that it was as a result of the decease since they were not tested. However, those who died with full symptoms and were confirmed are also nine. The other side of it is that the state epidemiologist has also gone to the community and confirmed the incidence, but said there are just two casualties.”

The former legislator and chairman of Ibaji LGA had said that he also witnessed similar a incidence when he was in the House of Assembly with the outbreak of cholera epidemic. The state agents had tried to conceal the figures to play down the impact or enormity of the epidemic to no avail and they got annoyed.

In regards to the current situation, he said: “We are lucky and happy that the rainy season is here because Lassa fever is rampant in dry season and very common within the rice producing areas, as rats feed on the rice and chaff.”

However, the Kogi State Government has already confirmed three reported cases of Lassa fever in Ibaji LGA. The Special Adviser to Kogi State Governor on Health Matters, Abu Jibril Okikiri, who reacted to the outbreak of the fever in Ibaji LGA of the state, said the affected persons were already receiving treatment at Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital in Edo State. Okikiri explained that the state epidemiological unit in collaboration with the Kogi State Ministry of Health has taken a proactive step to prevent escalation of the disease in the area.