The rampaging Lassa Fever virus has spread to 17 States of the federation and claimed 76 lives, the Federal Government has said.
The Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, who disclosed this on Tuesday, described the outbreak of Lassa Fever as a “national embarrassment”.
He therefore appealed to health practitioners in the 36 states of the federation not to hide any case from their governors and other leaders.
Adewole spoke in Abuja at the Emergency National Council on Health meeting with States’ Commissioners for Health and other stakeholders in the sector.
He said that so far, the Lassa Fever virus had spread to 64 local government areas in 17 states, while 212 suspected cases had been recorded.
The meeting, according to the minister, is to facilitate discussion on the control of the outbreak, develop strategies of prevention and management of all cases in the country.
The minister said: “There is a high level of denial and a conspiracy of silence in some states. I think people take delight in saying we have no case and to me that is not the issue.
“In fact, if you are able to pick a suspicious case, to me that is the issue because that goes to tell us that the surveillance system is working.
“We also want to alert all health professionals in the country that they should report any case to the appropriate authorities. I have described the outbreaks as a national embarrassment. We can manage the embarrassment, but when we allow another outbreak to occur in August this year, it will become a national shame to all of us. One of the things we will do is to stamp out Lassa Fever.
“Seventeen states have been affected across the country, it has affected 64 local governments across the country and we have been able to pick 212 suspected cases. It dates back from August last year, not just this year. It is better to over-count suspected cases than to undercount.
“The real hotspots are Niger, Bauchi, Taraba, Kano, Edo, Nasarawa, Plateau and Rivers, but for us to be honest with ourselves, all states should consider themselves at risk and put up measures to contain, prevent and reassure their communities that we are on top of the situation,” Adewole said.