Prof. George Akpede, the Chief Medical Director of Irrua Specialist Hospital in Edo, says that Lassa fever has claimed 22 lives in the hospital since last year.
Akpede, who made the disclosure in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Irrua, said that the deaths were recorded between January, 2011 and February, 2012.
He said that the victims were admitted at the hospital over the period.
Akpede said the worst cases were recorded between Oct., 2011 and February, 2012, when 12 out of 67 patients died.
He said although cases associated with the disease were on the decline in the state, it was worrisome that medical personnel handling the cases in the hospital were being infected.
“Mortality is decreasing. It is much lower than what we have been experiencing in the past year and a possible explanation for that is the increase on the level of awareness on the problem.
“Unlike previous experiences, people who have contacted the diseases now report for treatment earlier instead of treating common fever.
“Having dedicated staff and ward is also reducing the rate of mortality. Since last year, it is only now that it is possible for us to offer a level of critical assistance to patients by way of dialysis,” he said.
Akpede expressed optimism that more could be achieved in combating the disease if certain facilities and infrastructure were put in place in the hospital and around the state.
He called for the establishment of more centres in strategic locations in the country for the diagnosis and treatment of the fever, especially with the recent upsurge in reported cases.
He also advocated increased and sustained campaign on the scourge so as to raise the level of awareness on it.
``Here, in this hospital, we are beginning to see overwhelming number of victims of the disease. We have had patients from Taraba, Abakiliki, Ondo, Kogi and even Abuja.
“We are making a case to the Federal Government to provide cardiology support and the need to upgrade our diagnostic capability. This will enable us to handle a large pool of patients with the disease.
“There is need to also replicate same to centres in other zones of this country but we think that Lassa fever is a disease that is still under reported in this country.
“No community study has been done to ascertain the prevalence rate of the disease and until recently, in Edo, we thought it was ravaging only Ekpoma and environs but it has spread,” the medical director said. (NAN)