The Ebola virus claimed its first victim in Nigeria as a Liberian man died from the hemorrhagic fever in Lagos, the country’s commercial capital and sub-Saharan Africa’s largest city.
Local laboratory results showed the victim tested positive for Ebola, Lagos state Health Commissioner Jide Idris told reporters in the city yesterday. Separate results from a World Health Organization facility in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, have yet to arrive, he said. A list is being compiled of all the people who had contact with the patient, he said.
“We’re assuming it’s Ebola until further notice,” Idris said. “The public should not panic. We’re trying as much as possible to take the measures that will contain the spread.”
The 40-year-old man arrived in Lagos from Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, on July 20 showing symptoms similar to those of Ebola, Yewande Adeshina, Lagos state adviser on public health, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.
Ebola has killed more than 660 people in four West African nations since March in the worst outbreak of the virus since it was first reported in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976. The disease may spread for another three months, according to the World Health Organization. The latest outbreak of the disease, which has no cure or treatment, has also affected Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Lagos is Nigeria’s smallest and most densely packed state with a population of more than 20 million, according to local government estimates. Nigeria is Africa’s most populated country and largest economy, home to about 170 million people.
Early signs and symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, diarrhea and joint pains that may worsen to bleeding from the eyes, ears and nose before eventual death, according to the Lagos state Ministry of Health. Ebola kills as many as 90 percent of its victims.
“All ports of entry into Nigeria including airports, seaports and land borders are placed on red alert,” Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said in a statement handed to reporters in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, yesterday. “Ministry of Health specialists have been positioned in all entry points. Active surveillance has also been stepped up.”
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