NCDC Takes Swift Action Against Lassa Fever Outbreak In Kaduna State

Lassa Fever

The director-general of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), Dr. Jide Idris has officially acknowledged the outbreak of Lassa fever in Kaduna State. 

Speaking to newsmen in Abuja on Friday, Idris confirmed that the NCDC closely monitors the situation, collaborating with state health authorities to contain the disease’s spread. Lassa fever, an acute viral hemorrhagic illness transmitted through contact with contaminated items or infected rodents, exhibits symptoms such as fever, headache, sore throat, weakness, cough and in severe cases, unexplainable bleeding.

“The NCDC was notified yesterday by the Kaduna State Ministry of Health regarding deaths from suspected viral hemorrhagic fever at the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital in Kaduna. Following this, the NCDC collaborates with both institutions to investigate and responds comprehensively,” Idris stated.

He revealed that four of the six blood samples sent for testing confirmed Lassa fever and response efforts, including contact tracing and risk communication, are underway.

The NCDC dispatched rapid response teams to conduct investigations and implement control measures in affected areas. Idris emphasised early detection, prompt treatment and community engagement in curbing Lassa fever’s spread. “Lassa fever is caused by the Lassa virus, transmitted through contact with rodent-contaminated items. It is endemic in Nigeria, with outbreaks occurring during the dry season,” he noted. He urged strict hygiene practices to reduce transmission risks. Healthcare workers and the public are advised to maintain hygiene practices and seek immediate medical attention for symptoms. Idris reassured the public of the NCDC’s commitment to containing the outbreak.

As of February 18, 2024, 84 local government areas in 23 states report 2,621 suspected cases, 476 confirmed and 84 deaths, with a case fatality rate of 18.6 per cent. The NCDC, through its incident management system, distributed medical supplies, conducts capacity-building exercises and deployed social and behaviour change communication materials nationwide. Idris called for a holistic approach to public health challenges, emphasising a comprehensive, multidisciplinary strategy to improve health outcomes. Simultaneously, the country is responding to other outbreaks, including meningitis and measles, with high cases of diphtheria and cholera. Idris stressed collective responsibility for health safeguarding.

He urged Nigerians to maintain cleanliness, prevent rodent entry and seek medical help for Lassa fever symptoms, discouraging self-medication. As the situation develops, the NCDC will provide updates and guidance for effective control and prevention.

Racheal Abujah
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