Following the outbreak of lassa fever in Aya , Machagba communities in Ibaji Local government area of Kogi state, at least 20 persons been confirmed to have lost their lives while other persons have reportedly contacted with dreaded lassa fever in the area of the State are receiving treatment at in Irua specialist hospital in Edo State
The outbreak of lassa fever in the area was said to have caused panic in the local government area where there are no functional hospital to take care of the disease.
Speaking in a chat with newsmen , the former Chairman of Ibaji Local government Council, David Inah Ogwu explained that It was real that there were incidence of Lassa Fever in Aya and neighbouring communities in Ibaji Local Government of Kogi State.
Ogwu pointed out that the first incident that about four persons fell ill and died mysteriously without anybody diagnosing the disease or cause of death and thereafter other who manifested similar symptoms were taken to Irua. The fastest access to treatment is Irua in Edo State.
“It’s easier for the people in those communities to just cross the river get to Uromi and from there to Irua for their treatment.
“About nine persons have been diagnosed to have the Lassa Fever from Irua. The first set of people that went there was about 22 and of the 22, nine were confirmed to have the disease.
“So, seven of them are there right now being treated for Lassa Fever though their condition is not too critical. It is confirmed by the medical facility in Irua that what they have diagnosed and are treating is Lassa fever.
“So far we can say that the casualty figure is about 20. Cumulatively or speculatively 20 have died. Our people find it easier to go to Irua because medical facility can diagnose and treat.
“We are saying speculatively because some other people that died though with symptoms of Lassa Fever but nobody can say specifically that it was as a result of the decease since they were not tested.
“However those who died with full symptoms and confirmed are also nine. The other side of it is that the state epidemiologist has also gone to the community and confirmed the incidence. Even though he is saying that there are just two casualties.
“The thing is that he is not in that community and the ones he could confirm are the two who died in the hospital after the diagnosis and confirmation that they had the disease.
“Some other people had died earlier with the symptoms before they could could get to the hospital. They had manifested similar symptoms, signs of Lassa before they died.”
The former legislator and chairman of Ibaji Local Government said he witnessed similar incidence when he was in the House of Assembly with the outbreak of cholera epidemic.
“The state agents tried to conceal the figures to play down the impact or enormity of the epidemic to no avail and they got annoyed,” he said.
“On the present case, 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 the harvested rice, cassava and other food materials on the farms. So, the transmission of Lassa Fever in those areas is easy.
“The Aya community, Machagba and other communities in that area are prone to infestation of rats,” he continued.
“The incidence is more serious than what they are reporting but the good thing is that the state government has waded in and the communities themselves are already sensitising their members.
“A lot of sensitisation activities are already going on to maintain good hygiene, burn the bushes around to prevent rats from accessing their food and adequate protection of food stuff.”
However, the Kogi State Government has confirmed that three reported cases of Lassa in Ibaji local government the state.
The Special Adviser to Kogi State Governor on health matters, Abu Jibril Okikiri who was reacting to the outbreak of lassa fever in Ibaji Local Government area of the state said the affected persons are already receiving treatment at Irua Specialist Teaching Hospital in Edo State.
Okikiri explained that the state epidemiological unit in collaboration with the Kogi State ministry of health has taken a proactive step to prevent escalation of the disease in the Local Government.
“As at today, case of lassa fever record for Ibaji LGA that are currently on care at Iruah Specialist Teaching Hospital are just three. However, it is an outbreak because it is a notifiable disease,” he said.