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Lassa Fever Cases Soar To 1,968 Across 28 States – NCDC

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Lassa Fever Rats.
Lassa Fever Rats.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has officially confirmed a staggering 1,968 cases of Lassa fever, spreading across 112 local government areas in 28 states throughout the country.

This grim revelation emerged from the NCDC’s most recent Lassa fever situation report for week 37, covering the period from September 11 to 17, 2023, and was disseminated via its official website.

Lassa fever, a viral haemorrhagic fever, is relentlessly wreaking havoc and it’s primarily attributed to the Lassa virus. This lethal virus has established a stranglehold in West Africa, with Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria being the hardest-hit nations.

The virus stealthily infiltrates the human populace through contact with the excreta or faeces of infected rodents, particularly the pernicious multi-mammate rat. Disturbingly, Lassa fever can also be transmitted from one person to another through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected individual.

The spectrum of symptoms for Lassa fever spans from a mild inconvenience to a harrowing ordeal. Patients may exhibit signs such as fever, headaches, muscle aches, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhoea and, most alarmingly, bleeding. In the most severe cases, multiple organ failure ensues, often culminating in fatalities. It is crucial to underscore that Lassa fever represents a grave public health crisis in West Africa, with no specific treatment or vaccine in sight.

According to the NCDC, the nation currently stands in the throes of despair, grappling with 7,352 individuals harbouring suspected cases of this merciless infection. The dark cloud of Lassa fever has also claimed at least 181 lives across the country.

This relentless outbreak has resulted in a case-fatality ratio of a chilling 16.9 per cent, a horrifying testament to the gravity of the situation.

In a somewhat less bleak revelation, the NCDC reported that the current case fatality rate is slightly lower compared to the same period in the previous year, where it stood at 19.1 per cent.

As the outbreak rages on, a grim reality emerges: in the year 2023, Lassa fever has not spared even the valiant healthcare workers of Nigeria. A heartbreaking tally of 49 healthcare workers has fallen victim to this merciless scourge.

To address this grave situation, the Nigerian Infectious Diseases Agency has activated the National Lassa fever multi-partner, multi-sectoral Emergency Operations Centre, galvanising coordinated efforts across all levels of the country.

The critical task at hand is prevention. It hinges on avoiding any form of contact with rodents and their faeces, adhering to stringent personal hygiene practices, and taking utmost precautions when caring for infected individuals.

According to the NCDC, early diagnosis and swift medical intervention stand as the bulwark against this perilous disease, offering the best chance at managing the affliction and averting potentially catastrophic complications.

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