•Confirms 244 cases, 37 deaths in 16 states/FCT
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), yesterday, said the country is at a very high risk of increased Lassa fever transmission.
This is as it confirmed 244 cases of Lassa Fever in 16 states and the FCT and 37 deaths, a case fatality rate of 15.1 per cent as at January 22.
Director-General, NCDC, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa said the infection cases were recorded Ondo State (90), Edo (89), Bauchi (13), Taraba (10), Benue (9), Ebonyi (9), Nasarawa (7) and Plateau (5). Others are Kogi (4), Anambra (2), Delta (1), Oyo (1), Adamawa (1), Enugu (1), Imo (1), and the FCT (1).
He said among five health workers confirmed infected in the line of duty, one of them died.
The agency in a statement said it has activated the national multi-sectoral emergency operations centre for Lassa fever (LF-EOC) at level 2 to coordinate and strengthen ongoing response activities in the country.
It said the operations centre was activated following a risk assessment carried out on January 20 by its experts and relevant stakeholders.
“The outcome of the risk assessment placed the country at a very high risk of increased Lassa fever transmission due to an unprecedented upward trend in the number of confirmed cases being reported compared to previous years, increased number of states reporting cases in comparison to previous years and increased risk of healthcare worker infections and deaths due to Lassa fever infection. Infection and death among the healthcare workers accounted for 5 and 1 of the confirmed cases and deaths respectively, highlighting the need for an increased index of suspicion among healthcare workers,” it said.
The NCDC said the purpose of emergency operations centre activation was to achieve a coordinated national response and reduce suffering and death due to the disease.
“Ahead of the projected rise of Lassa fever cases and as the country began to witness a rise in cases in the last week on November 2022, the NCDC prepositioned supplies for case management, infection prevention and control, laboratory diagnosis, etc. in all historical Lassa fever hotspots in the country.
“This was complemented by correspondence sent to the Commissioners of Health, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, State Ministries of Health, and respective professional bodies of healthcare workers to alert and sensitize them on the situation as well as to advocate for in-state activities to respond to Lassa fever,” it said.
Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus. The natural reservoir for the virus is the rat and other rodents.
The virus spreads through direct contact with urine, faeces, saliva, or blood of infected rats and contact with objects, household items and surfaces contaminated with the urine, faeces, saliva, or blood of infected rats.
Consumption of food or water contaminated with the urine, faeces, saliva, or blood of infected rats; person-to-person contact with blood, urine, faeces, and other body fluids of an infected person could also lead to infection.
Lassa fever initially presents like other commonplace illnesses accompanied by a fever such as malaria.
Other symptoms include headache, general body weakness, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pains, chest pain, sore throat, and in severe cases, bleeding from ears, eyes, nose, mouth, and other body openings.