As of Thursday, July 7, there has been at least one confirmed death and three other confirmed infections from Lassa fever in Langtang, Plateau state. According to officials, all of the cases involved students from the Federal Government Girl’s College.
The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Kamshak Kudeng, stated that doctors would be sent to Lantang. He also stated that all students, doctors, and nurses at Jos University Teaching Hospital - where the patients were treated - would be placed under 21-day surveillance. This is the first time cases of Lassa have been reported in Plateau state.
According to the Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC), an ongoing Lassa fever outbreak in the country has caused 68 deaths out of 149 confirmed cases since mid-December 2016. Cases were reported in 23 out of 36 states across the country. Borno state recorded its first case in nearly 50 years in late February. A Lassa Fever Eradication Committee was created to strengthen the capacities of states to prevent, detect, and respond to the disease.
Lassa fever is carried by the Mastomys rat, which is found in parts of West Africa. The virus is transmitted to humans from direct contact with infected rodents or through contact with food or household items contaminated with rat feces or urine. The virus can also be transmitted through contact with an infected person's bodily fluids.
All those present in Nigeria are advised to take the necessary measures to protect themselves from the disease and to avoid contact with potential carriers of the disease. Wash hands and disinfect all surfaces frequently. Drink only bottled or purified water, and eat only thoroughly cooked or peeled fruit and vegetables. All other food should be thoroughly cooked prior to consumption. Individuals who believe they may have contracted Lassa fever are advised to seek immediate medical attention.
On a separate note, due to the high risk of terrorist attacks, kidnapping, and other violent crime, Western governments advise against travel to the north of the country (Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, Kano, Jigawa, Yobe, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Adamawa, Niger, Nassarawa, Plateau, Taraba, Benue, Kogi, and Federal Capital Territory [FCT] states). Furthermore, due to severely compromised security conditions (high risk of kidnapping and crime), the majority of Western governments also advise against travel to the southern states of Delta, Imo, Abia, Bayelsa, Rivers (with the exception of Port Harcourt), and Akwa Ibom.