The Plateau government says it has so far recorded four deaths and five cases of Lassa fever in the state.
The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Kunden Deyin, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) yesterday in a telephone interview in Jos that 80 per cent of the mortality rate was due to late presentation of patients to health care facilities.
His words: “The mortality rate is as high as 80 per cent. The reason is that people are reporting very late. Lassa fever is best managed when patients start taking the drug within the first week of contracting the disease.
Admitting that getting the medication for the management of the ailment was difficult, the commissioner added that the state was trying to access the drugs from the Federal Ministry of Health.
Deyin said his ministry had, however, alerted healthcare workers in the state to be on the alert and have “high index of suspicion.”
He explained that such suspicion meant that when a patient had been treated for malaria and was still not getting better, further investigation should be carried out to ascertain if the case was Lassa fever.
The commissioner noted that the ministry had commenced sensitisation in Jos-Bukuru metropolis and 17 local councils to enlighten the people on how to prevent the disease.
“Lassa fever is transmitted through the urine and excreta of rats which serve as reservoir for the Lassa virus and the rodent is usually attracted to dirty environment.
“The ministry, through sensitisation, educates the populace on the importance of keeping clean environment and on the need to ensure that foods are stored in rodent-proof containers as well as to desist from drying food items on the roadside since rats can urinate and defecate in them.
“We embarked on this social mobilisation because we believe that prevention is better than cure,’’ he added.