Lassa Fever: 41 People Killed, 258 Cases Confirmed Since 2020 – FG

Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, briefs reporters in Abuja on January 28, 2020.

 

 

At least 41 people have died of Lassa fever in parts of the country since the beginning of 2020, the Federal Government has confirmed.

The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, disclosed this on Tuesday during a press briefing at the ministry’s secretariat in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Giving an update on the raging outbreak of the disease, he revealed that at least two health professionals were among the 41 deaths recorded.

Ehanire added that there were at least 258 confirmed cases recorded across 19 states in the country.

He urged Nigerians in various parts of the country to practice good hygiene and protect their foods from rat contamination.

The minister also spoke about the outbreak of coronavirus reported in China, Germany, the United States, as well as two African countries.

He noted that the Federal Ministry of Health had issued a health advisory in the outbreak of the disease, saying that the risk of importation was high even though no single suspected case has been reported in Nigeria.

Ehanire was, however, worried about the presence of suspected cases in the Ivory Coast and Kenya, considering that coronavirus was being transmitted by humans who infected with the disease.

As part of efforts against the spread of the disease, he said the Federal Government has raised surveillance at all entry points into the country.

The minister was specific about the preventive measures being taken at the five international airports in Nigeria – in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), as well as Lagos, Enugu, Rivers, and Kano States.

US Health Agency Reports Five Confirmed Cases Of Coronavirus

People wearing masks stand on a street in a shopping district in Hong Kong on January 26, 2020, as a preventative measure following a coronavirus outbreak which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan. DALE DE LA REY / AFP

 

US health authorities said Sunday there are now five confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States and more are expected.

Nancy Messonnier, head of the respiratory disease section at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said around 100 people in 26 states are being investigated for the virus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Of the confirmed cases, all five people had traveled to Wuhan, Messonier said during a conference call with reporters.

“Every case we have had in the United States is someone who has had direct contact in Wuhan,” she said.

Messonier said there are two cases in California and one each in Arizona, Illinois and Washington state. Until now the toll was three.

While Chinese officials have launched an extraordinary emergency response, Messonier insisted that the health risk for Americans, in general, remains low “at this time.”

China Stiffens Defences Against Epidemic As Death Toll Hits 56

 

China on Sunday expanded drastic travel restrictions to contain a viral epidemic that has killed 56 people and infected nearly 2,000, as the United States, France and Japan prepared to evacuate their citizens from a quarantined city at the outbreak’s epicentre.

China has locked down the hard-hit province of Hubei in the country’s centre in an unprecedented operation affecting tens of millions of people to slow the spread of the respiratory illness.

The virus’s ability to spread appears to be “getting stronger” though it is “not as powerful as SARS”, top Chinese health officials said at a press conference, adding that their knowledge of it is limited.

The previously unknown virus has caused global concern because of its similarity to the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) pathogen, which killed hundreds across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.

Outside the epicentre, four cities — including Beijing and Shanghai, and the eastern province of Shandong — announced bans on long-distance buses from entering or leaving their borders, a move that will affect millions of people travelling over the Lunar New Year holiday.

The popular southern province of Guangdong, Jiangxi in the centre, and three cities made it mandatory for residents to wear faces masks in public.

Originating in Hubei’s capital of Wuhan, the virus has spread throughout China and around the world — with cases confirmed in around a dozen countries as distant as the United States.

The US State Department said Sunday it was arranging a flight from Wuhan to San Francisco for consulate staff and other Americans in the city.

The flight is on Tuesday, it said in an email to Americans in China that warned of “extremely limited” capacity for private citizens.

France’s government and the French carmaker PSA also said they were formulating plans to evacuate staff and families, who will be quarantined in a city in a neighbouring province.

Japan is coordinating with the Chinese government to swiftly evacuate its citizens, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

South Korea’s consulate in Wuhan said it was conducting an online poll of its citizens there to gauge demand for a chartered flight out.

Fear in Wuhan 

Instead of New Year revelry, Wuhan has been seized by an eerie calm that deepened on Sunday as new restrictions banned most road traffic in the metropolis of 11 million.

Loudspeakers broke the silence by offering tips slathered with bravado.

“Do not believe in rumours. Do not spread rumours. If you feel unwell, go to the hospital in time,” the message said.

“Wuhan is a city that dares to face difficulties and keeps overcoming them,” the female voice added, mentioning the deadly 2002-03 SARS epidemic and 1998 Yangtze River flooding.

The health emergency has overwhelmed Wuhan’s hospitals with patients, prompting authorities to send hundreds of medical reinforcements, including military doctors, and start construction on two field hospitals.

With non-essential vehicles banned from the road, volunteers stepped up to drive sick fellow citizens to hospitals.

“There has to be someone who does this,” Zhang Lin, 48, told AFP journalists as he waited for a patient to emerge from a clinic for the drive back home in nearly deserted streets.

Some foreigners in Wuhan expressed deep concern, saying they feared going outside even though their food supplies were running low.

“We want to be evacuated as soon as possible, because either the virus, the hunger or the fear will kill us,” Mashal Jamalzai, a political science student from Afghanistan at Central China Normal University, told AFP.

The outbreak is suspected to have originated in a Wuhan market where animals including rats, snakes and hedgehogs were reportedly sold as exotic food.

China said Sunday it was banning all trade in wildlife until the emergency is over, but conservationists complain that China has previously failed to deliver on pledges to get tough.

Another Disneyland Closes

Health officials said the virus has since become transmissible between humans.

“From what we see now, this disease is indeed … not as powerful as SARS,” said Gao Fu, head of China’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, at a press briefing in Beijing.

However, it also appears that the “spreading ability of the virus is getting stronger,” said Ma Xiaowei, head of China’s national health commission.

Shanghai on Sunday reported its first death — an 88-year-old man who had pre-existing health problems. The government says most deaths involved the elderly or people already suffering from other ailments.

Fearing a repeat of SARS, China has dramatically scaled back celebrations and travel associated with the New Year holiday, which began Friday, while tourist sites like Beijing’s Forbidden City and a section of the Great Wall have closed as a precaution.

In Hong Kong, Disneyland announced Sunday it had closed as a precaution after the city declared an emergency to combat the crisis. Shanghai’s Disneyland park had already closed Saturday.

President Xi Jinping said Friday at a Communist Party leadership meeting on the crisis that China faced “the grave situation of an accelerating spread” of the virus, calling for stepped-up prevention.

Justin Bieber Reveals He Has Lyme Disease

In this file photo taken on November 09, 2019 Justin Bieber waits in the ring after the fight between KSI and Logan Paul at Staples Center on November 9, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. JAYNE KAMIN-ONCEA / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

Pop superstar Justin Bieber announced Wednesday that he has Lyme disease.

In a post on Instagram, Bieber said he will address his struggle with the illness, which is contracted through a tick bite, in a YouTube documentary.

“It’s been a rough couple years but getting the right treatment that will help treat this so far incurable disease and I will be back and better than ever,” the 25-year-old entertainer wrote in the post’s caption.

He called out critics who he says have been unfairly commenting on his looks by saying he looks like he is “on meth.”

“They failed to realize I’ve been recently diagnosed with Lyme disease, not only that but had a serious case of chronic mono which affected my, skin, brain function, energy, and overall health.”

The photo portion of Bieber’s post shows a TMZ article reporting that the YouTube documentary is set for a January 27 release.

“You can learn all that I’ve been battling and OVERCOMING!!” he wrote on Instagram.

He spent much of last year suffering but undiagnosed, TMZ reported, until doctors figured out what was wrong.

The post’s photos include pictures said to be taken in September of Bieber appearing to be hooked up to an IV drip.

In subsequent Instagram posts and on his Instagram story later in the day, Bieber thanked his fans for supporting his new song “Yummy,” released last week.

And the Canadian seemed to say he is doing better, posting a meme video of a little girl dancing with the caption, “But now this is how I’m feelin.”

Bieber was discovered by talent scouts as a young teenager after posting videos of himself singing on YouTube and quickly shot to superstardom. He has since won several MTV awards, Billboard Music Awards, and a Grammy, among others.

After an Instagram post from March indicated Bieber would be taking time off music to focus on “my family and my health,” Bieber married US model Hailey Baldwin in September.

Now he has a new album and tour coming soon, according to TMZ.

In September Bieber opened up about “massive ups and downs” he experienced as he went from beloved teenage heartthrob to “the most ridiculed, judged and hated person in the world.”

In a lengthy Instagram post, he reflected on how child stardom triggered depression and a lack of humility that led to drug abuse and his becoming “resentful, disrespectful to women, and angry.”

“I became distant to everyone who loved me, and I was hiding behind, a shell of a person that I had become,” he wrote.

Lyme disease is transmitted to humans through infected ticks, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms can include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, joint aches and a “bull’s-eye” rash that occurs in 70 to 80 percent of infections.

Most people who are treated with antibiotics early fully recover, according to the CDC, though the infection can become severe or prolonged in some cases.

At Least 16 Million Individuals In Nigeria Live With Chronic Viral Hepatitis – FG

 

 

The Federal Ministry of Health says no fewer than 16 million individuals in Nigeria are living with chronic Hepatitis B and C virus.

According to the ministry, the discovery is sequel to a National HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey carried out in 2018.

A representative for Viral Hepatitis Control in Nigeria, Clement Adeshigbin, said this during a training organised for health workers on how to manage the disease in Taraba State.

According to him, viral hepatitis is a silent killer and it is now globally known to be 10 times more widespread than HIV/AIDS, hence the decentralisation of its treatment in order to control it.

He adds that the choice of Taraba for the training is in view of the fact that the state has a high prevalence of 19 per cent with 2 million individuals living with the virus.

Adeshigbin insists that the state government is committed to subsidizing the treatment for patients.

Philippine’s President Duterte Admits To Declining Health

This file photo taken on October 18, 2019 shows Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaking during a joint press conference with his Indian counterpart at the Malacanang Palace in Manila. Ted ALJIBE / AFP
This file photo taken on October 18, 2019 shows Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaking during a joint press conference with his Indian counterpart at the Malacanang Palace in Manila. Ted ALJIBE / AFP

 

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has admitted that life is taking its “toll on my health”, as speculation swirls over the 74-year-old’s prolonged absences from the public eye.

Duterte cut short a trip to Japan last month because he was suffering from “unbearable pain” in his spine after a recent motorcycle accident, and has not spoken publicly for two weeks.

The accident came just 10 days after he revealed in early October that he has myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune disease that causes muscle weakness and can result in drooping eyelids and blurred vision.

“If you ask me… ‘Are you in the best of health?’ Of course not,” Duterte told GMA News television in an interview on Friday.

“All of the ailments, I have them because I am already old… Life has begun to take its toll on my health,” said Duterte.

The recent incidents have intensified speculation about his capacity to lead, although his spokesman Salvador Panelo has repeatedly said there is no need to issue medical bulletins on the president’s health.

Duterte has opted to work from his hometown Davao City, on the southern island of Mindanao, over the past week to get some rest, his spokesman has said.

The oldest Philippine leader elected, Duterte last week passed on the running of his signature anti-narcotics crackdown that has claimed thousands of lives to Vice-President Leni Robredo, an arch-critic.

Duterte has not given public remarks since he attended a regional summit in Thailand that ended on November 4, shortly after he cut short his trip to Japan, having attended the enthronement ceremony of Emperor Naruhito with the aid of a cane.

Duterte had also previously said he suffers from migraines and Buerger’s disease, which is characterised by inflammation of blood vessels, usually due to smoking.

The Philippine constitution requires the handover of power to the vice president if the leader cannot perform his duties due to disability, resignation, or death.

 

AFP

Lagos Govt Shuts 14 Health Facilities For Non-Compliance

Lagos Adds 740,146 Jobs In 12 Months
A file photo of vehicles trapped in traffic in Lagos.

 

 

The Lagos State Government says it has shut down 14 health facilities for non-compliance with regulatory standards in the state.

A statement from the government on Wednesday revealed that the enforcement exercise was conducted by the Health Facility Monitoring and Accreditation Agency (HEFAMAA) in the month of September.

The Executive Secretary of HEFAMAA, Dr Abiola Idowu, stressed that the government remained committed to putting a halt to the ugly trend of having unqualified personnel work in health facilities.

She stated that the government would continue to insist that the environment for the dispensation of medical care was suitable for the promotion and maintenance of good health.

READ ALSO: Trial Of Fayose’s Ex-Aide, Agbele Adjourned Till December

Dr Idowu warned that any form of illegal health practices would not be tolerated in the state as health security was an integral part of public security, which was the primary duty of the government.

She gave assurance that the government would ensure that all health facilities conform to best practices and urged operators to abide strictly by the standards of HEFAMAA to avoid sanctions.

The executive secretary also called on residents to continue to cooperate and support the government in the fight against quackery and illegal operation of facilities by reporting those behind such acts to relevant agencies.

She, therefore, advised owners and operators of health facilities to complete their registration with HEFAMAA and go through the normal procedures.

Dr Idowu asked residents to desist from patronising any healthcare provider that has not been certified and also report any suspicious facility.

Five Key Things About Fentanyl And America’s Opioids Crisis

Tablets believed to be laced with fentanyl are displayed at the Drug Enforcement Administration Northeast Regional Laboratory on October 8, 2019, in New York. Don Emmert / AFP

 

 

Jury selection has begun in a landmark federal case on Ohio on whether drug companies can be held responsible for the opioids epidemic that is raging across America.

The case is seen as a test for the entire pharmaceuticals industry, which stands accused of fueling the crisis by aggressively promoting painkillers that can become dangerously addictive.

Perhaps predictably, the companies are negotiating to possibly avoid trial, thereby avoiding a precedent-setting verdict.

Fentanyl is the primary synthetic opioid available in the United States, a class of drug that was responsible for almost 32,000 overdose deaths last year.

Here are five things to know in order to understand the crisis:

What is fentanyl?

Fentanyl was first developed in 1959 and introduced to the US market in the 1960s as an intravenous anesthetic.

It is used to manage severe pain — for example, among cancer patients or those receiving end-of-life care.

It is up to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

But it is also produced illegally and trafficked into the United States — primarily from China and Mexico — in the form of powder or tablets, and sometimes gets mixed with heroin and cocaine.

Fentanyl can be lethal in a dose of as little as two milligrams, equivalent to a few grains of sand.

How many deaths?

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported more than 400,000 deaths from opioid overdoses from 1999 to 2018. On average, about 130 Americans die each day.

While the crisis first erupted in the 1990s, the number of deaths exploded starting 2013, when fentanyl use began to surge.

Last year, the number of fatal overdoses fell for the first time in 20 years in the United States, but deaths due to the use of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids mounted, totaling 32,000.

– Where does it come from? –
Powdered fentanyl can be bought on the dark web or even business trading sites like Weiku.com, according to Roger Bate, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who published a report on the drug earlier this year.

A kilo sourced from China can be purchased in the United States for as little as $1700, which is then used to create up to a million pills that, when sold for $10 to $20, each generate millions in revenue, according to the DEA.

Mexican gangs also play a large role in producing and distributing the drug, with precursor chemicals first smuggled into Mexico via the southwestern United States.

Some illicit fentanyl products are also brought into the United States via Canada, which until 2017 did not allow authorities to open the contents of mail weighing less than 30 grams.

Who’s to blame?

Experts agree that in part, the crisis stems from the prescription use of painkillers gone wrong. Doctors seeking to manage their patients’ pain overprescribed medications, and some users became addicted.

One of those medications is OxyContin, which is made by Purdue Pharma. The US firm got clearance to offer the drug for a wider range of problems, and use skyrocketed.

Purdue is most widely blamed for fueling the epidemic, and is one of the defendants in the complex Ohio case. It has been seeking a settlement since filing for bankruptcy.

It and other companies like Johnson & Johnson are now facing an avalanche of legal action led by state attorneys general or local authorities.

The CDC puts the “economic burden” of the opioids crisis at a whopping $78.5 billion a year. That includes the costs of health care, lost productivity and the prison system.

A study published this week by the Society of Actuaries put the total cost for 2015-2018 at $631 billion.

What is the US government doing?

The administration of US President Donald Trump designated the opioids epidemic a “public health emergency” in October 2017. That freed up public funds to battle the crisis and improve treatment.

Beyond the obvious federal efforts to combat drug trafficking, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in April 2018 launched the HEAL Initiative — Helping to End Addiction Long-Term.

That project is aimed at pinpointing scientific solutions to the issues of effective pain management. In fiscal 2019, $945 million was devoted to the initiative.

Most US states have been aggressive in their efforts to prosecute drug companies over the crisis.

10-Fold Surge In S.Africa Teens Treated For HIV

 

The number of young people in South Africa receiving treatment for HIV has increased 10-fold within a decade, a major new study has found.

South Africa has the largest number of HIV-positive people in the world, with around 7.2 million carrying the virus, which causes AIDS.

Researchers studied more than 700,000 young people receiving treatment for the infection and found 10 times the number of adolescents aged between 15-19 being treated compared with 2010.

Authors of the study, published in The Lancet HIV journal attributed the rise partly due to the success of AIDS prevention programmes that result in better detection and treatment rates.

READ ALSO: Lagos Govt Commences Investigation Into Reported Disease Outbreak In Queens College

However, they found that fewer than 50 percent of young South Africans who present for HIV care go on to initiate antiretroviral therapy, which can prevent transmission and stops a patient from developing AIDS.

“Despite the upswing in numbers initiating therapy, barriers persist that prevent many adolescents from starting treatment,” said Mhairi Maskew from the University of Witwatersrand and the report’s lead author.

These include concerns about stigma, a pervasive sense that clinics cannot guarantee patient confidentiality and increased domestic responsibilities for young people, especially in families where children have lost parents to HIV and AIDS.

The study found that while those diagnosed with HIV were roughly split by gender, nine in 10 people actively receiving treatment were girls.

The authors said this was consistent with far higher rates of sexually-transmitted HIV infection in young women compared to young men.

AIDS deaths have declined globally since the peak of the epidemic in the early 2000s, but an international AIDS commission warned last year of a resurgence if the world’s booming adolescent population weren’t protected.

Lagos Govt Commences Investigation Into Reported Disease Outbreak In Queens College

File Photo; Queens College

 

The Lagos State government says it has commenced an investigation into the purported outbreak of an air-borne flu in Queens College and other schools in the state.

In a statement signed by the Director, Public Affairs of the state, Tunbosun Ogunbanwo, the Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi, was said to have disclosed this on Tuesday.

According to Abayomi, the investigative team comprises officials of State Epidemiology team, Primary Health Care Services and Environmental Health Department of Lagos Mainland Local Government.

While reviewing preliminary reports of the investigations conducted by the team, Abayomi explained that they identified what appears to be a sporadic increase in upper respiratory tract infections characterized by cough, cattarh, fever and weakness across some schools.

“The team has since visited Queens College and investigations are ongoing. Findings according to the review of health records in the school sick bay revealed that 89 students presented to the clinic with Influenza-like illnesses”, he said.

He added that a walk-through inspection to other facilities in the school revealed that although environmental sanitation and water supply were optimal, they could be improved.

The Commissioner, therefore, stated that nasal swab samples will be collected from pupils for confirmation of the cause of the illness.

He, however, appealed to stakeholders of Queens College, other affected schools and residents of Lagos State to remain calm and ensure strict adherence to personal and environmental hygiene at all times even as they await the comprehensive report of the investigation.

“I assure you that the situation is under control and seems to be subsiding. We will give necessary updates as the assessment and investigation progresses”, Abayomi said.

Speaking further, he advised all schools in Lagos State, either day or boarding to adopt basic precautionary measures against diseases and illnesses by teaching and ensuring good hand washing practices, promoting personal hygiene and providing adequate hand washing points within the school premises.

“They must also commence and continue to raise awareness about respiratory etiquette such as covering of mouth with clean hands or handkerchiefs when coughing or sneezing, and washing hands immediately after.

“School management must also hold food handlers and vendors to the highest health and hygiene check protocols as stipulated in the law, and practiced world over”, the Commissioner posited.

He also advised parents not to send their children to school if they have features of an upper respiratory tract infection such as a cold, or flu-like symptoms but rather have a doctor review them

He appealed to School authorities as well as citizens to report suspected case(s) of any strange illnesses and diseases to the nearest Public Health Facility or the Medical Officer of Health (MOH) their local government area or to the Directorate of Disease Control in the Ministry of Health through the following lines: 08023169485, 08023377487.

First Vaping Hospitalisation Reported In Canada

A man exhales smoke from an electronic cigarette. EVA HAMBACH / AFP

 

Canada reported its first hospitalisation for severe respiratory illness linked to vaping on Wednesday, following an outbreak in the US that has killed seven people and sickened hundreds.

The Middlesex-London Health Unit said in a statement that “a youth has been diagnosed with severe respiratory illness that has been linked to the individual’s use of vaping products.”

Medic Christopher Mackie told a news conference that the London, Ontario high school student, who vaped daily, was admitted to a local hospital intensive care unit, but has since recovered.

“As far as we’re aware, this is the first case of vaping related illness that’s been reported in Canada,” he said.

E-cigarettes have been available in the US and Canada since 2006, and are sometimes used to aid in quitting smoking traditional tobacco products such as cigarettes.

Despite a ban in Canada on selling vaping products to youths, their use among adolescents has skyrocketed in recent years.

Health Minister Ginette Petitpas-Taylor said the Canadian government was looking at further banning vaping advertising and certain flavors that may be appealing to young people.

“At the end of the day, my number one priority is protecting our youth,” she said. “We want to make sure that the regulations in place will be protecting our youth and making sure these products are not appealing to youth in any way.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said recently that there were more than 450 possible cases of pulmonary illness associated with vaping in the US.

The CDC and Health Canada have cautioned against vaping as officials investigate the precise cause of the deaths. No single substance has been found to be present in all the laboratory samples being examined.

AFP

Nigeria Gradually Winning War Against AIDS – NACA

 

The National Agency for the Control of AIDS says Nigeria is gradually winning the war against HIV/AIDS.

At the ongoing Nigeria Implementation Science Alliance Conference in Abuja, the agency noted that the infection rate in the country has dropped by four per cent.

The conference is aimed at discussing how to achieve impact in addressing the burden of infectious diseases through research implementation.

More to follow…