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In one week, Nigeria records 550 cases of measles, meningitis, lassa fever… five others

THE Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has disclosed that a total of 550 suspected cases of eight different diseases comprising measles, cerebrospinal meningitis, yellow fever and five others were recorded in one week across the states in the country.

In its weekly, epidemiological report for the week 35 released on Tuesday, the NCDC listed other diseases to include cholera, lassa fever, monkey pox, acute flaccid paralysis, and influenza subtype A and B.

According to the breakdown of the cases, measles account for the highest figures with 307 suspected cases across 127 local governments of 27 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

Acute flaccid paralysis and lassa fever diseases followed measles with 74 and 73 suspected cases respectively.

Others were Yellow Fever  with 44 cases, cholera-33 cases, cerebrospinal meningitis-16, monkeypox-2 and a case of influenza.

Measles is a vaccine-preventable disease, however, thousands of measles cases have been recorded in 2019 in Nigeria.

To tackle the public health disease, NCDC said the multi-agency National Measles Technical Working Group (TWG) was monitoring and coordinating response activities, working closely with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) towards measles supplemental immunization activity in the country.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the best protection against the disease is through receiving two doses of the measles vaccine.

But a WHO’s report in April 2019, noted that more than four million Nigerian children missed the first dose of measles vaccine in 2017.

Cases of Measles between 2015 and as of July 2019.

The result of the missed-out is visible in the country as between January and July, it recorded a total of 24, 994 cases, according to WHO’s statistics. Nigeria’s figure was the fourth-highest globally.

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Lassa Fever also affected 73 people in the last week of August across 15 local governments in 12 states. It caused the death of two people.

Edo State has the highest number with 36 cases. The state is followed by Ondo State with 13 casualty figures. Other states that were affected with Lassa Fever are Lagos – 12,  Ebonyi – 3, Bauchi – 2, Plateau – 1, Kaduna – 2, Benue – 1, Delta – 1, and Abia –2. 

The disease is caused in humans by being infected with Lassa virus from exposure to urine or faeces of infected Mastomys rats. The virus could also spread between humans through direct contact with the blood, urine, faeces, or other bodily secretions of a person infected with Lassa fever.

Going by the situation update report, Nigeria has recorded 3,617 suspected cases of the disease so far in 2019.  Of these, 678 were confirmed positive and a total of 147 people died to the disease.

Responding to the disease, NCDC noted there is a TWG that co-ordinates the response activities at all levels.

The prevention of Lassa fever relies on promoting good “community hygiene” to discourage rodents from entering homes with effective measures that include storing grain and other foodstuffs in rodent-proof containers, disposing of garbage far from the home, maintaining clean households and keeping cats, according to WHO.

Confirmed Cases of Lassa Fever in Six States in Nigeria as of August 2019. Infographics by Olugbenga Adanikin/The ICIR.

Another epidemic Nigeria is fighting is Acute flaccid paralysis (AFP). The disease which is described by the global health agency as a sudden onset of paralysis or weakness in any part of the body of a child less than 15 years of age were suspected to affect 74 people across 25 states and the FCT for that week.

Yellow Fever, Cholera and Cerebrospinal Meningitis that are all vaccine-preventable diseases recorded casualty figures close to 100 people.

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