The Plateau Ministry of Health has confirmed the death of one person in Mangu Local Government area of the state from Lassa fever infection.
The Commissioner for Health, Dr Kudun Deyin, said at a press briefing in Jos on Friday that the victim, a woman, was on transit from Abuja.
He said a specimen from the deceased was sent to Irrua in Edo for confirmation.
He said that the ministry’s Disease and Surveillance Notification Officer had been sent to the private hospital where the lady was admitted to carry out further investigation and to forestall the spread of the disease.
Deyin, however, said that there were other cases in Shendam, Langtang South, Jos North and Pankshin local government areas, which had yet to be confirmed.
He described Lassa fever as an acute haemorrhagic illness caused by the Lassa virus, a member of the arena- virus.
“It is a zoonotic disease, which means that humans get the disease when they come in contact with animals that serve as reservoir of the virus.
“They are transmitted mainly from contacts with food and household items contaminated with the faeces and urine of the rodent.
“The rodent is the Mastomy (Multi-mammary gland) rat which serves as a reservoir of the virus,” Deyin said.
He said that only 20 per cent of the cases manifested symptoms similar to those of malaria.
Such symptoms are muscle fatigue, fever, facial swelling, seizures and in critical cases, bleeding from the body openings, such as the mouth, eyes, anus and ears, he said.
The commissioner, however, called on the public to keep calm and to report any suspected case to the nearest health facility for prompt attention.
He also advised that people, especially those in the rural areas, should ensure they kept rodents out of their homes, by maintaining a clean environment.
“They should dispose wastes properly and far away from their homes and they should ensure they store their foodstuffs in containers where rodents cannot have access to them,” Deyin said.
He also stressed the importance of avoiding blood contacts, especially of suspected persons.
“This is critical because the disease can be transmitted directly from one human to another through direct contact with infected human blood, excretions and secretions,” the commissioner said.
He, however, assured residents of the preparedness of the state government to tackle Lassa fever and issues surrounding it.
“We have informed the Federal Ministry of Health and they have promised to provide drugs for the treatment and management of the Lassa disease,” he said.