Nigeria Records 857 Lassa Fever Cases, 164 Deaths

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Lassa Fever

The Nigeria Lassa fever cases have jumped to 857, with164 deaths so far recorded from the disease in the first seven months of 2022. 

According the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)’s latest Lassa fever situation report for week 29 obtained by Science Nigeria showed that there were 857 confirmed cases of the disease in the country. 

The NCDC said that the cases were distributed across 24 states and 99 local government areas in the country. 

It said that 54 healthcare workers had been infected with the disease.

“A breakdown indicated that of all confirmed cases, Ondo has 30 per cent, Edo 26 per cent and Bauchi14 per cent. 

“In week 29, the number of new confirmed cases increased from five in week 28. These were reported from Edo and Ondo states. 

“Cumulatively from week 1 to week 29, 2022, 164 deaths have been reported with a case fatality rate (CFR) of 19.1 per cent which is lower than the CFR for the same period in 2021, 23.7 per cent. 

“In total for 2022, 24 states have recorded at least one confirmed case across 99 local government areas. 

“Of all confirmed cases, 70 per cent are from Ondo 30 per cent, Edo 26 per cent and Bauchi 14 per cent. 

“The predominant age group affected is 21-30 years range: the median age of 30 years and a male-to-female ratio of 1:0.8 for confirmed cases. 

“The number of suspected cases has increased compared to that reported for the same period in 2021. One new healthcare worker was affected in Ondo state,” it said. 

Recall that Lassa fever is a viral haemorrhagic fever transmitted by rats. It has been known since the ‘50s, but the virus was not identified until 1969 when two missionary nurses died from it in the town of Lassa in Nigeria. 

Found predominantly in West Africa, it has the potential to cause tens of thousands of deaths. Even after recovery, the virus remains in body fluids, including semen.

Neighbouring countries are also at risk, as the animal vector for the Lassa virus, the ‘multi-mammate rat (mastomys natalensis)’ is distributed throughout the region. 

The virus is transmitted to man by infected multi-mammate rats and humans become infected from direct contact with the urine and faeces of the rat carrying the virus. 

People also contract the disease by touching soiled objects, eating contaminated food or being exposed to open cuts or sores. 

Secondary transmission from person to person can also occur as a result of exposure to the virus in the blood, tissue, urine, faeces or other bodily secretions of an infected patient. 

Lassa fever is a zoonotic disease associated with high morbidity and mortality and it has both economic and health security implications. 

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