Nigeria records 42 deaths from Lassa fever – Official

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Health officials have confirmed the death of 42 persons from the Lassa fever outbreak ravaging Nigeria.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on January 21 declared an outbreak of Lassa in Nigeria fever following an increase in the number of cases.

NCDC situation report for week four on the outbreak of the disease shows that from January 1 to 27, a total of 538 suspected cases were reported from 16 states. Of these, 213 were confirmed positive, two probable and 325 negative.

Since the onset of the 2019 outbreak, there have been 42 deaths in confirmed cases. The case fatality rate in confirmed cases is 19.7 per cent.

The states which have recorded at least one of the confirmed cases are Edo, Ondo, Bauchi, Nasarawa, Ebonyi, Plateau, Taraba, FCT, Adamawa, Gombe, Kaduna, Kwara, Benue, Rivers Kogi and Enugu.

The reported cases represent a significant increase in the number of cases reported in the same period in 2018.

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The outbreak of Lassa fever has become a yearly occurrence in the country and this peaks from January to April. Last year, Nigeria recorded the highest reported cases in the history of the disease in the country.

The disease is treatable but often presented late to the health facilities. There is also hope for early diagnosis if samples are collected early as the country now has four reference laboratories where the virus can be detected.

In the situation report for week four (January 21 – 27), 77 new confirmed cases were reported. These include Edo-24, Ondo-28, Ebonyi-5, Bauchi-3, Plateau-5, Taraba-3, Gombe-1, Kaduna- 1, Kwara-1, FCT-1, Benue-2, Rivers-1 Kogi- 1 and Enugu-1. There were 12 new deaths including Edo-4, Ondo-2, Benue 1, Rivers 1, Plateau 2, Taraba 1 and Bauchi 1.

A healthcare worker was affected in Enugu State during the period. This puts the total number of health care workers infected so far since the beginning of the outbreak as four.

Currently, 102 patients are being managed at various health centres across the country. This includes 34 patients at Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH) treatment centre, 40 at the Federal Medical Centre Owo, five in Bauchi, eight in Plateau, Taraba (3), Ebonyi (6) and others states (6).

The World Health Organisation in a statement released on Friday on the situation of the disease in the country said it has been assisting the federal government and NCDC in scaling up response to Lassa fever outbreak in states across Nigeria to strengthen rapid containment of the disease.

“WHO is mobilizing experts to intervene in investigations, contact-tracing, risk communication and plans are underway to strengthen efforts to further assist Nigeria in controlling the Lassa fever outbreak”, it said.

Speaking on the outbreak, WHO Officer in Charge for Nigeria (OIC), Peter Clement, said with the outbreak confirmed, WHO intensified its technical assistance to state and federal authorities in investigation and response to the outbreak

“WHO reorganised its staff to provide assistance to each of the response pillars and directed field offices to assist in outbreak investigation, coordination and response activities at the state level.

According to him, “WHO is supporting coordination, enhanced surveillance, contact tracing, and risk communication. We are also mobilizing experts to support case management and detailed epidemiological analysis to monitor situation in the affected states.”

Through the polio infrastructure in the state field offices, WHO is also providing technical assistance and coordination of partners in the affected states.

Symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, dizziness, sore throat, malaise, cough, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, hearing loss among others.

Lassa fever is transmitted from the excreta or urine of the multimammate rat. Anyone who is suspected of being in contact with a Lassa patient victim needs to be presented to the health facilities within a period of 21 days.

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