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Nigeria records fresh polio cases as India beats virus

Published by Guardian on Mon, 27 Feb 2012

Lassa fever deaths abateWITH the three remaining polio endemic countries ' Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan ' still grappling with the Wild Polio Virus (WPV), India was over the weekend officially taken off the list by the World Health Organisation (WHO).According to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) Weekly Polio Update, Nigeria last week reported two new cases of type 1 WPV (WPV1s).According to the GPEI, India has not had a case since January 13, 2011, in West Bengal.The report stated: 'One of the cases had onset of paralysis in 2012 (from Sokoto), bringing the total number of cases in 2012 to two. The other case had onset of paralysis in 2011 (from Zamfara), bringing to total number of cases in 2011 to 61. The most recent case had onset of paralysis on January 14 (WPV3 from Borno).'Security concerns remain in northern states with new attacks in Kogi, Yobe, Borno, and Abuja. Eleven 'Stop Transmission of Polio' (STOP) personnel arrived and were deployed. Sixteen short-term consultancy personnel arrived and were deployed into high-risk areas.'A 'Polio Free Torch Event' was held successfully in Kebbi last week with the participation of the Sultan of Sokoto and of the state Governor. Supplementary immunisation activities were concluded last week (19-21 February), with further campaigns planned for 17-20 March. 'Meanwhile, with no death from Lassa fever last week across the country, the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) may have put the disease under control.Lassa fever has ravaged 12 states and killed 40 persons across the country in recent times.Chief Epidemiologist at FMOH, Henry Akpan, told The Guardian in an exclusive interview yesterday that the government had set up rapid response team that had visited all the 12 affected states providing public education, surveillance and drugs for treatment.Akpan said: '40 people have died from the disease. We have no new deaths for over a week now. Twelve states are affected but the most affected are Edo, Taraba, Nasarawa, Plateau, and Rivers. Lassa fever is common during the dry season. When people start farming, the burning of bushes causes the rats to run into homes and contaminate food and water. So the primary infection is from rats to man.'It is not all rats that cause Lassa fever but multi-mammic rats that have plenty of breasts. We have set up rapid response team, which has been to all the affected states giving public education and drugs for treatment.'On how to prevent the disease, the epidemiologist said: 'Make sure you keep the environment clean, cover foods and water properly, block the rat holes and improve hygiene. Anybody with signs and symptoms fever should go to the hospital because the symptoms are similar to that of malaria.
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