From Emmanuel Adeyemi Lokoja
Lassa fever has hit some communities in Ibaji Local Government Area of Kogi State killing no fewer than 20 people with many been hospitalised
at Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital in Edo State.
It was gathered that Aya and neighbouring communities of the local government in early March, 2022 started witnessing mysterious deaths of rice farmers and other members but could not ascertain cause of death.
It will be recalled that the state commissioner of health Dr Saka Haruna was sacked two days ago by the state governor for allegedly diverting the Covid 19 palliatives
A source in the community said that the disease started with two persons in early March, rose to three and then, four, adding that they were alarmed and had to cry out when several others began to manifest similar symptoms as those who died.
Former Chairman, Ibaji Local Government Council and one time member, Kogi State House of Assembly, David I Ogwu,
who is also an indigene of the area said the epidemic was real adding that many had died before the intervention of government.
Ogwu said the epidemic started with about four persons who fell ill and died mysteriously with more and more persons manifesting similar symptoms and getting worse in the last three weeks and had to be taken to Irrua.
On the choice of Irrua, Ogwu said the fastest access to quality diagnosis and treatment was Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital as Ibaji local government lack medical facilities as a result of its peculiar terrain.
He said it was easier for the people in those communities to “just cross the river, get to Uromi and from there to Irrua for their treatment.
“Out of the set of 22 persons that went there nine were confirmed to have the Lassa Fever. Two were treated and discharged and seven are still there receiving treatment. However those who died with full symptoms and confirmed are also nine.
“So far we can say that the casualty figure is about 20 because some others died with the symptoms but we’re not reported
“However, we are lucky and happy that the rainy season is here because cases of lassa fever are rampant during dry season and very common within the rice producing areas as rats come to feed on the rice and chaff they leave on the ground.
“In the process, the rats urinate on harvested rice, cassava and other food materials in the farms. So, the transmission of Lassa Fever in those areas is easy.
Meanwhile, Special Adviser to Kogi State Governor on health matters, Abu Jibril okikiri confirmed the incident but said only three people died of the disease
He noted that the state epidemiological unit in collaboration with the State ministry of health had taken a proactive step to prevent escalation of the disease in the Local Government.