By Francis Onoiribholo Ag. Bureau Chief Benin
No fewer than 11 persons were killed by Lassa Fever in the country between January and February 4 this year.
Former Vice Chancellor, Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Prof. Dennis Agbonlahor, revealed this in Benin in an interview shortly after delivering the 10th guest lecture of the College of Medical Sciences of the University of Benin, entitled “Lassa Fever: A 44 -Year-Old Deadly Public Health Burden in Nigeria.”
Agbonlahor announced that Lassa fever pandemic spread to 22 local government areas in nine states, including Edo, Benue, Delta, Nasarawa, Taraba and Plateau states between January and February 4 this year.
In his lecture, Agbonlahor, who is a Professor of Microbiology, said 23 states in the country were affected by Lassa fever in 2012, out of which 87 deaths were recorded.
Besides, he said over 100, 000 lives were lost to Lassa fever between 1969 and 2013, even as he explained that many unrecorded deaths occurred in rural areas.
Agbonlahior said 44 years after Lassa fever was discovered in the country, “we have not yet, as a nation, been able to collect accurate epidemiological data on the distribution of rodent typing and rodents’ Lassa viral carriage, according to geo-political zones and states in Nigeria.
The reason for this, according to him, is because various research proposals on the subject over the years were yet to be funded, even as he disclosed that funds donated by foreign donors for establishment of Lassa fever laboratories in each zones of the federation, were collected by some officials of the Federal Ministry of Health, but never accounted for.
Agbonlahor explained that vaccination against Lassa fever has not being possible due to lack of funding and political will.
He urged the Federal Government to establish zonal diagnostic offices for Lassa fever and to show more interest and concern on the control and eradication of the disease caused by rodents.