NCDC Records 20 Deaths From Lassa Fever Across 16 States

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Lassa Fever Rats.
Lassa Fever Rats.

In the ongoing battle against Lassa fever, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has reported a grim tally of 20 deaths across 16 states in the span of a single week, from February 26 to March 3, 2024.

According to the NCDC’s official website, the agency noted an uptick in confirmed cases, rising from 96 in the previous week to the current count.

Lassa fever, as reported by Science Nigeria, is an acute viral hemorrhagic illness transmitted to humans through contact with contaminated food, household items, or infected individuals. Symptoms include fever, headache, sore throat, weakness, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pains, chest pain and in severe cases, unexplained bleeding from various body openings.

Despite concerted efforts, the NCDC expressed concern over the persistent threat of Lassa fever, as evidenced by the continuing rise in cases and fatalities. The latest figures indicate a total of 109 cases reported within the week under review.

Cumulatively, Nigeria has recorded 682 confirmed cases and 128 deaths from Lassa Fever from week one to nine of 2024, reflecting a case fatality rate of 18.8 per cent, higher than the corresponding period in 2023, which stood at 16.1 per cent.

Furthermore, the NCDC highlighted a notable increase in suspected cases compared to the previous year, with eight healthcare workers newly affected in week nine alone.

The affected states include Ondo, Bauchi, Edo, Benue, Ebonyi, Kogi, Kaduna, Taraba, Enugu, Delta, Jigawa, Adamawa, Anambra, Rivers, Ogun and Oyo.

Of particular concern is the concentration of confirmed cases in Ondo, Edo, and Bauchi, which account for 62 per cent of all cases, while the remaining 38 per cent are scattered across 24 states.

The most affected age group falls within the 31-40-year bracket, with a nearly equal distribution between males and females among confirmed cases.

To address the escalating crisis, the NCDC has activated the National Lassa fever multi-partner, multi-sectoral Incident Management System, operating from the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), to coordinate response efforts at all levels.

As the nation grapples with this public health emergency, heightened vigilance, community engagement and coordinated interventions remain paramount in curbing the spread of Lassa fever and mitigating its devastating impact on communities nationwide.

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