Panic in Kogi community as Lassa fever claims 20 lives


By Friday Idachaba

Communities in Ibaji Local Government Area of Kogi State are now living in palpable fear as a result of an outbreak of Lassa Fever which has claimed 20 lives with several others hospitalised in Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Idumabo Irrua, Edo State.

Nigerian Pilot gathered that the Aya and neighboring communities of the local government had witnessed mysterious deaths of some rice farmers and other persons but could not ascertain the cause of deaths.

Hon. David Inah Ogwu, former Chairman, Ibaji Local Government Council and one time member, Kogi State House of Assembly, who is also an indigene of the area, said many had died before the intervention of government.

Ogwu said the epidemic started with about four persons who fell ill and died mysteriously and others manifesting similar symptoms before being taken to Irrua.

On the choice of Irrua, Ogwu said the fastest access to quality diagnosis and treatment was Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital on Kilometre 87, Benin-Auchi road as Ibaji local government lacks medical facilities as a result of its peculiar terrain.

He said it was easier for the people in those communities to “just cross the river, get to Uromi and from there to Irrua for their treatment.

“Out of the set of 22 persons that went there nine were confirmed to have the Lassa Fever. Two were treated and discharged and seven are still there receiving treatment. However those who died with full symptoms and confirmed are also nine.

“So far we can say that the casualty figure is about 20. Cumulatively or speculatively 20 have died. We are saying speculatively because some others died with the symptoms but nobody can say specifically since they were not tested.

Meanwhile, Kogi State Government through Abu Jibril Okikiri, the Special Adviser to Kogi State Governor on health matters, confirmed three reported cases.

Okikiri, while reacting to the reported outbreak of Lassa fever in the council area of the State said the affected persons were already receiving treatment at Irrua Specialist teaching Hospital in Edo State.