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Hoax alert! No new cases of deadly Lassa fever in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital

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The deadly Lassa fever has claimed the lives of a doctor and two nurses at Abuja’s Asokoro District Hospital, says a message shared on social media in Nigeria.

It warns: “Nobody should come to the accident and emergency unit. The disease is deadly.”

The alert popped up in February 2019 on Africa Check’s Nigeria WhatsApp group, which helps us keep track of false health information circulating in the country.

Lassa fever is caused by a virus transmitted to humans by contact with food or household items contaminated with rodent urine or faeces.

Public should disregard warning

But the warning is false, according to a statement by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

No death from Lassa fever has been recorded in Abuja’s Federal Capital Territory in February, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, the director general of the health agency, said in the statement.

“Our attention has been drawn to a message circulating on WhatsApp and Twitter, purporting that there is a suspected lassa fever case in the Asokoro District Hospital, and advising people to stay away from the Hospital. This is entirely false.”

The public should disregard the scare, the agency said.

Africa Check also found no independent report of any Lassa fever case. The alert is false and the hospital released a statement confirming there wasn’t an outbreak there, Dr Roland Aigbovo, who works at Asokoro Hospital, told Africa Check.

Lassa outbreak in other states

But Lassa fever has been reported elsewhere in Nigeria. From 11 to 17 February 2019, 25 new confirmed cases were reported. Eight were in Bauchi, six in Edo, four in Taraba, two each in Ondo and Plateau, and one each in Kogi, Kebbi and Ebonyi states. Six new deaths were reported in Ondo, Bauchi and Kogi.

On 22 January the disease control centre declared a Lassa fever outbreak in the country due to the increasing number of cases of the disease.

It confirmed a previous infection in Abuja early in January. - Motunrayo Joel (27/02/2019)

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