Nigeria: Lassa Fever - Ondo Spends N1.6 Million to Treat Each Patient - Official

The Ondo State Government says it spends about N1.6 million to treat each patient affected with Lassa fever in the state.

According to government record, a total of 115 persons were infected with the disease in the state between January and February 2019. Another 21 died from the disease within the period.

Speaking to PREMIUM TIMES on Friday, the Commissioner for Health in Ondo State, Wahab Adegbenro, said the disease was costing the government "between N1.5 million and N1.6 million to successfully treat a Lassa fever patient."

Mr Adebgenro, however, could not give the exact number of those treated so far and those currently under treatment.

He said the government was fully responsible for the treatment of the disease and had currently treated a large number of those affected.

According to him, the most affected areas were Owo, Ose and Akoko North, particularly towns bordering Edo State, although cases were reported in Akure South and Akure North local governments of the state.

"The recent outbreak began in Edo and because we share boundary with Edo State, those areas were affected," Mr Adebgbenro said.

"It appears as if Edo and Ondo are having the largest share of the attack, even though we have the Irua Specialist Hospital designated as the centre where the issue would be handled."

Although the commissioner noted that the situation was under control, he lamented that the greatest challenge is that posed by the behavioural disposition of the people in terms of hygiene and environmental sanitation.

"The problem we have right now is the attitude of the people, the media especially should assist in this area in enlightening the people," he said.

"The environment is usually dirty and rodents carrying the virus use this medium to infect residents.

"Those people who are sun-drying their garri are also prone to be infected because the rodents walk over the garri and defecate on it and thereby transmitting the virus when it is eaten.

"Again, people using rat killers should not use their bare hands to handle the dead rat because the virus could also be transmitted through contact with it."

The commissioner also noted that the government had started evacuating refuse dumps from the affected communities. He pleaded that the people should not return to the dump refuse at the evacuated sites.

He said the task force he heads had been set up by the governor of the state and efforts have been made in collaboration with relevant stakeholders to stem the tide.

"As I speak to you, the situation is under control and we are doing a number of things to ensure the disease do not spread any further," he added.

Earlier, the Nigerian Medical Association in Ondo State said most of the people who died of the disease either reported late or were already subjected to alternative treatment and doing self-medication before they eventually came to hospital.

The Chairman of the association, Wale Oke, said those who died had their kidneys and livers already affected by the disease as a result of the delay.

Mr Oke, who works at the Federal Medical Centre, Owo, urged residents of the state to report early to the medical centre if they experience high temperature in their bodies.

He, however, noted that the FMC had the highest success rate out of the three centres for Lassa fever treatment in Nigeria.

"We have contact tracing mechanism whereby we can place on surveillance for 21 days those that may have contact with an infected person," he said.

"We continue to monitor their temperature if it is above 37.8 and ask them quick for treatment.

"Since the outbreak of Lassa fever, we have been moving round all the health facilities to sensitise our people on the need to maintain universal caution and also to be vigilant."

At least 75 deaths have been recorded from Lassa fever across Nigeria since the start of the year, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

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