Akure — An epidemiologist in Ondo State, Dr. Stephen Fagbemi, wednesday said death toll from Lassa fever has risen to 20.
The casualty figure was also corroborated by the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Wahab Adegbenro.
A total of 112 confirmed cases were said to have been recorded in the state so far just as five local government areas of the state were said to have been hit by the disease.
The affected council areas include: Akoko South-west, Ose, Owo, Akure South and Ondo West local government areas, while the victims were transferred to the Federal Medical Centre, Owo and a treatment centre in Akure.
The state government had last week revealed that 16 deaths had been recorded from the disease out of the 100 cases that were confirmed.
Adegbenro said the figure of the victims rose as a result of the influx of some victims from the neighbouring states to Ondo due to free treatment in the state.
"We are having the high figure because Ondo State is the only state that the treatment of Lassa fever is free of charge. I think we are having people coming from other areas to access the free treatment," he said.
The commissioner, who addressed journalists on the World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day, held on January 20, said the state has been mapped for the various Neglected Tropical Diseases.
Some of the neglected tropical diseases, he said, include onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, leishmaniasis, soil transmitted helminths, schistosomiasis and human African trypanosomiasis.
He explained that the "mapping result indicates that the state has overlapping endemicity for four preventive chemotherapy NTDs - the onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis and schistosomiasis."
He said the government was being proactive in tacking the diseases as the government had begun the distribution of the preventive chemotherapy for the neglected tropical disease, adding that the distribution varies across the communities and local government areas in the state.
"The scourge of NTDs were also being addressed through mass awareness created through different print and electronic media along with specific mass administration of medicines in the endemic areas," he stated.
The commissioner also noted that the World Health Organisation had targeted most of the preventive chemotherapy of the NTDs for elimination by 2030 "in line with the Millennium Development Goal 3."