The Taraba State Epidemiologist, Dr Aketemo Udi, on Saturday denied media reports indicating that three persons have died of Lassa fever in the state.
Udi, who disclosed this to newsmen in Jalingo, said only one confirmed death from Lassa fever was recorded in the state ,while the remaining two deaths were from suspected cases of the disease.
He warned that rushing to make headlines with deaths from suspected cases of the disease would only cause panic among the citizenry and adverse effect on the economy.
“ The rush to make headlines with suspected Lassa fever deaths can cause unnecessary panic, and in the end, the test result may end up showing that the patients died of another disease,” Udi said.
The expert stressed that only a laboratory test could determine a confirmed case of Lassa fever because its symptoms were similar to Dengue fever, Yellow fever and other hemorrhagic diseases.
He revealed that 21 suspected cases of Lassa fever were reported in the state since Jan 3, and samples of the patients were taken to the Institute of Virology, Lagos, for testing.
Udi said out of the 21 samples, five were confirmed positive and eight were still pending, adding that patients who tested positive were on drugs.
The expert listed the areas worst hit by the disease to include Jalingo, Ibi, Gassol and Bali.
He warned that bush burning, eating of rats and unhygienic handling of food items were some of the causes of Lassa fever.
Udi explained that bush burning drives rats carrying the dieses to residential areas , while indiscriminate storage of food items and eating rats exposed humans to the disease