Lassa fever kills 3 in Taraba

•NCDC confirms 77 cases, 21 deaths Sylvanus Viashima, Jalingo, with agency report An outbreak of Lassa fever has killed three

•NCDC confirms 77 cases, 21 deaths

Sylvanus Viashima, Jalingo, with agency report

An outbreak of Lassa fever has killed three people in Taraba, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

WHO Surveillance Officer, Dr. Bello Ahmed disclosed this at a sensitisation workshop on Lassa fever, organised by the state Ministry of Health in Jalingo, the state capital, yesterday.

Represented by Dr. Zeto Philip, the surveillance officer said 12 cases have been reported, three confirmed dead and three positive cases have been placed under close monitoring.

Ahmed said Bali, Ibi, Gassol, Gashaka, Jalingo and Ardo-Kola local governments in Taraba have been placed under Red Alert and explained that two deaths have so far been recorded in Jalingo and one in Ardo-Kola, putting the state at 25 per cent infection rate.

The WHO representative further explained that the survey was conducted between January 1 and 28, with 367 contacts identified across the country and urged the public to be mindful of their personal hygiene and safety to mitigate the spread of the disease.

In his remarks,  Commissioner for Health, Dr. Innocent Vakkai said the workshop was part of the state government’s efforts at creating awareness to mitigate the spread of the disease.

Meanwhile, National Coordinator of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, has said 21 deaths have been recorded from the 77 confirmed cases in the current outbreak of Lassa fever in Nigeria.

Ihekweazu disclosed this at the opening ceremony of the National Executive Council meeting of the National Association of Resident Doctors in Abuja, yesterday.

He said of the 77 confirmed cases, 10 health workers were affected.

Dr. Vakkai quoted the Chief Medical Director of Irrua Specialist Hospital, Edo, Dr Sylvanus Okogbeni, as confirming that two health workers affected were discharged on Monday.

He described the situation as sober, adding that it had resulted in serious emotional trauma, fear, anxiety and sometimes anger among stakeholders.

Ihekweazu said it is time stakeholders addressed the challenges of hemorrhagic fevers, including Lassa fever.

The national coordinator said NCDC has distributed more Ribavirin drugs used in the treatment of the disease to the affected states than it had ever done in the past and added that government alone might not be able to supply the needed drugs to all the affected persons in the country.

Ihekweazu said the centre has produced guidelines for the prevention and control of hemorrhagic fevers, adding that NARD members should work with their hospitals’ chief medical directors to address outbreaks.

In his remarks, President, Nigeria Medical Association,  Prof Mike Ogrima, urged doctors in the country not to attend to patients if they do not have protective gears.

“You have to get some level of immunity or protection before you provide services to such patients,” he said.

Lassa fever is a viral infection caused by the Lassa fever virus and the disease occurs all year round but more cases are recorded during the dry season.

It is spread through direct contact with urine, faeces, saliva or blood of infected rats, eating food or drinking contaminated water.

The disease can be prevented through enhanced personal hygiene, avoidance of all contact with rats (dead or alive) and keeping the house and surrounding clean always.

Gunmen kill 7, injure 2 in Nasarawa

Linus Oota, Lafia Blood flowed yesterday in Kadarko, a major town in Keana Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, as

Linus Oota, Lafia

Blood flowed yesterday in Kadarko, a major town in Keana Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, as herdsmen invaded the village in the unholy hours of the night, when the villagers were deeply asleep, and killed seven farmers and injured two others.

The attack, which took place in Angwan Tiv, a major Tiv settlement in Kardorko, was well-coordinated by the raiders. Several homes were razed, with over 30,000 farmers fleeing their ancestral homes for safety.

Those killed were Ioryan Tete, Salla Lege, Abraham Igba, Sarki Tabo, Pius Tabo, Iorga Tyogh, and Augustine Yeagee, while Blessing Clement and Madam Orjime were badly injured in the attack.

Speaking to our correspondent, an elder in the area, Targba Tyo, said what saved the entire people of Kadarko was the resistance put up by their dogs

According to him, “We were deeply asleep when we suddenly heard dogs barking at them as they gradually surrounded the area. They were in large numbers and heavily-armed. They divided into groups but when the dogs were making too much noise, one of the herdsmen decided to use one bullet to eliminate one of the dogs that was disturbing them. The sound of the gunshot made us to wake up, but they were able to kill seven people and injured two.

“The attack was not a surprise to us because we heard the rumour a day earlier that the herdsmen were planning to invade Kadarko and, since them, over 8,000 people have moved to Benue. Some relocated to Lafia. The police did not help matters because we reported the threats to them but no action was taken.”

Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, who visited the scene of the attack yesterday, broke into tears when he saw the lifeless bodies of the seven victims. He said that he was in the place to see things for himself and console the people of the area and the bereaved families.

He said: “It is a pity; I got the information last night that a group of militants came and slaughtered seven people in Kadarko. I contacted the security agencies and that is why we are here this morning. I felt bad.

“I’m touched when I see people migrating to safety; children and pregnant women trekking long distances with their luggage on the head,” he said.

He promised to deploy security men and said he had requested for military air surveillance in the area for immediate detection of further attacks. He directed farmers staying in isolated areas not to go to their farms any longer and to relocate immediately to Kadarko town where a unit of policemen and the military would be stationed.

The governor also directed security agencies to immediately commence investigation into the immediate cause of the attack and offer solutions for immediate action. He added that relief materials and medical services would be provided immediately to the displaced persons.

Al-Makura said that he was in touch with the governor of Benue State on how the situation could be brought under control, especially at the border. He expressed confidence that the security personnel on hand would forestall a recurrence.

The governor, who toured all the affected villages in Keana, expressed sadness over the empty houses he met and directed security agencies to find the perpetrators of the wicked act.

The Nasarawa State Police Command equally confirmed the killing of the seven persons in Kadarko village.

Police Public Relations Officer, Kennedy Idrisu, said the victims were killed by gunmen that attacked the village.

Kadarko had come under severe attack lately with alleged cattle rustlers killing 73 cows last Sunday.