Nigerian health officials reported yesterday the Lassa fever outbreak in the country is spreading as the viral disease has now been seen in 62 local government areas in 17 affected states.

The 17 affected states reporting cases include Bauchi, Niger, Taraba, Kano, Rivers, Oyo, Ondo, Edo, Plateau, Gombe, Nasarawa, Lagos, Delta, Ekiti, Ebonyi, Zamfara and Kogi as well as the Federal Capital Territory. (Those in bold are the hardest it)

Nigeria/Alvaro1984 18
Nigeria/Alvaro1984 18

Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole said at a meeting in the capital of Abuja that the death tally from Lassa fever at 63, up 10 from less than a week ago.  However, perhaps the most disturbing thing Adewole said was two-fold–he predicted, if unchecked, this outbreak could kill 1,000 Nigerians.

Secondly, he warned of the dangers of silence and denial on behalf of health managers:

“There is a high level of denial and a conspiracy of silence in some of our states. I think people take delight in saying we have no case and to me that is not the issue,” the minister said.

“In fact, if you are able to pick a suspicious cases, to me that is the issue because that goes to tell us that the surveillance system is at work. We also want to alert all health professionals in the country that they should report any case.”

Then there is the finger pointing, or alleged finger pointing occurring at the highest levels of Nigeria’s government.

Over the weekend, one local media report stated that Adewole blamed the outbreak on the failure of the Goodluck Jonathan administration to implement a roadmap on health which was drawn in 2012.

However, this was rebutted by the health minister. Prof. Isaac Adewole, said he never at any time blamed ex-President Goodluck Jonathan for the resurgence of Lassa fever in the country. “The report is a mischief. If you watched my interview on Channels TV, I said all of us, including myself, as Nigerians, should be blamed.