By Haruna Gimba
Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, has declared a state of emergency in the state health sector following a fresh outbreak of Lassa fever that claimed three lives in the state.
The Secretary to the State Government, Ben Odoh, stated this at the end of a meeting of a special committee set up by the governor to combat the rampaging disease.
The disease, it said, has so far claimed three lives out of the five confirmed cases, in addition to 49 other suspected cases.
Mr. Odoh said the state government is building a diagnostic centre in the state to help in speedy response to cases.
“Before now samples were taken to Edo State for tests, but the governor has directed that we build a centre here at the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki and work has already started on the building,” he said.
The SSG noted that a subcommittee had been mandated to source and procure all the equipment needed to get the centre up and running immediately the building is completed.
“Another sub-Committee, headed by the State Commissioner for Environment, has been set up to clear all refuse in the state to ensure that rats which carry the Lassa virus do not breed near residential areas,” he added.
According to him, a media sub-committee has been set for the purpose of carrying out enlightenment campaigns to the people on the disease using various mass media and even the social media.
He re-stated the state government’s resolve to combat the disease and nip it in the bud in no distant time.
The Commissioner for Health, Daniel Umeruruike, said the three deaths recorded in the state were due to late presentation.
He said: “We have had 49 suspected cases successfully treated with the drug of choice Ribavirin because we have a strange presentation in Ebonyi State. Most of the patients have clinical diagnoses of Lassa fever but when we do the investigation it comes out negative. The interesting thing is that when the drugs are started early, they respond to the treatment.”