Fear as Lassa fever hits 28 states, kills 227, many infected

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No fewer than 227 deaths and 1,270 confirmed cases of Lassa fever were recorded in Nigeria from 28 states in 2023, Nigeria, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, NCDC, has disclosed.

Meanwhile, in response to the rapidly increasing cases of Lassa fever in Nigeria, NCDC through the National Lassa Fever Technical Working Group (LF-TWG) has activated the national multisectoral Emergency Operations Centre for Lassa Fever, (LF-EOC), reports Sunday Vanguard.

The rise in the number of cases was reported from week 49 and associated healthcare workers’ infection for three weeks with a total of 9,155 suspected cases.

Disclosing this press statement announcing the activation of the EOC, the Director General of NCDC, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa said the zones of impact of Lassa fever have been increasing across the country with risk of inernational exposure.

Statistics from NCDC also revealed that in 2022, Nigeria recorded a total of 1,055 cases and 189 deaths recorded within the same period, showing an increase in Lassa fever cases in the country.

Adetifa explained in the statement that the situation report as of January 7, 2023 in comparison to January 7, 2024 revealed that although the country currently has more confirmed than week 1 of 2023, the current CFR of 11.6 per cent was lower than that for the same reporting week of 2023 (CFR of 27.6 per cent).

He said the Lassa Fever Emergency Operations Centre, EOC, would strengthen the coordination of response efforts towards reducing the spread of the infection.

He said the LF-EOC activation resulted from a risk assessment conducted by subject matter experts from relevant Ministries, Departments, Agencies, stakeholders, and major partners.

The outcome of the risk assessment placed the country at “High Risk” of increased risk of Lassa fever transmission and impact due to the increased number of states reporting cases, high case fatality in confirmed cases, low index of suspicion among healthcare workers, healthcare worker infections and deaths and continued attrition of essential healthcare.

Noting that in 2023 the upsurge indicated an early peak into the high transmission season nationally, he explained that before the activation of EOC, the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare through the NCDC had Issued an alert letter to States to guide state-level preparedness, readiness, and response activities for Lassa fever among others.

“The LF-EOC activation will coordinate a national response particularly across affected states to help minimise suffering, reduce mortality, interrupt disease transmission, and address socioeconomic complications caused by Lassa fever using a one health approach.

“This national response requires all of the government and all of the people’s participation along with the support of partners and other stakeholders.

While the NCDC has the mandate to lead the prevention, preparedness, and response to public health emergencies, this is done in collaboration and with the support of States who also have to develop and implement evidence-driven outbreak response plans for their territories.”

He said the public has a collective responsibility to maintain personal and environmental hygiene as well as food hygiene.

“We urgently urge the public and healthcare workers to remain vigilant. Early detection and immediate presentation at health facilities significantly increase survival chances. The NCDC remains dedicated to safeguarding the health of Nigerians and is actively working towards reducing the fatality rate to a single digit,” he stated.


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