Dr Isaac Adewole, Nigeria's Health Minister

Dr Isaac Adewole, Nigeria’s Health Minister

Nigeria’s health minister is urging Nigerians not to panic over an outbreak of Lassa fever that has killed 35 people in seven states since November.

The states affected are Bauchi, Kano, Taraba, Oyo, Nasarawa, Niger and Rivers.

Dr. Isaac Adewole said the government has taken adequate measures to contain the outbreak, with 14 lab-confirmed cases among 76 suspected ones.

Lassa, named after a Nigerian town where the acute viral hemorrhagic fever first was identified in 1969, has the same symptoms as Ebola and also requires that health workers wear protective gear and patients be isolated. Only about 1 percent of patients die.

The disease is carried by rats and mostly affects rural communities with poor sanitation or crowded living conditions. It is only found in West Africa.

In a statement issued on Friday the health minister appealed to members of the public to be calm.

Adewole had earlier urged the public to prevent the spread of Lassa fever by taking the following precautions

• Avoid spreading of foods along the road.
• Keep food in tightly sealed containers.
• Cover all food and water properly.
• Set few traps in and around the house to reduce rat populations
• Isolate infected patients from contact with unprotected persons until the disease has run its course.
• Wearing protective clothing such as masks, gloves, gowns and goggles when caring for patients with Lassa fever.
• Avoid contact with Lassa fever patients secretions.
• If you have a bad infestation and they are in the walls, leave a few exit points so they can get out and not die inside the house and after they are all gone, seal up the holes.