Nigeria lost 200 lives to Lassa fever in 2023 – NCDC

THE Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said Nigeria might have recorded the highest number of Lassa fever cases, with 8,542 suspected cases, 1,170 confirmed cases, and 200 deaths across 28 states in 2023.

The confirmed cases reported in 2023 indicate a 9.7 per cent increase from those reported in 2022.

The Centre disclosed this on December 18 in a statement.

It described Lassa fever as an acute viral haemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus,  mostly through the type of rodents known as the multimammate rat or the African rat.

The disease can be spread through direct contact with urine, faeces, saliva, or blood of infected rats, contaminated objects, faeces, saliva, or blood of infected rats.

Person-to-person transmission can also occur through direct contact with an infected person’s blood, urine, faeces, vomitus, and other body fluids.

Meanwhile, the NCDC raised an alarm over the continuous surge in the number of reported cases. This surge is attributed to various factors, including community awareness, environmental degradation resulting from climate change, and other detrimental human activities in the environment.

“In 2021, 510 confirmed cases were reported across 17 states and 68 local government areas (LGAs). Whereas in 2022, Nigeria reported 1,067 confirmed cases across 27 states and 112 LGAs. In 2023 alone, 28 states and 114 LGAs have reported confirmed cases of Lassa fever. As of December 3, 2023, there have been 8,542 suspected cases, 1,170 confirmed cases, and 200 deaths (case fatality rate of 17.1 per cent), suggesting 2023 may witness record numbers of cases.



    “Annual outbreaks of Lassa fever also involve the infection and death of healthcare workers. This loss of life is not just a statistic but a significant loss of a loved family member, a spouse, a parent, and often seasoned healthcare worker and team member. This exacerbates the challenge of insufficient human resources for health in the country,” the statement added.

    The NCDC explained that the time between infection and the appearance of symptoms of the disease is three to 21 days, noting that early diagnosis and treatment of the disease greatly increase the chances of patient survival.

    It also reiterated that people of all age groups who come in contact with the urine, faeces, saliva, or blood of infected rats, those who handle or process rodents for consumption, and hospital staff, among others, are at great risk of the disease.

    The symptoms of the disease, according to the statement, include headache, general body weakness, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pains, chest pain, sore throat, and, in severe cases, bleeding from ears, eyes, nose, mouth, and other body openings.

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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