Nigeria records 477 confirmed Lassa fever cases in 7 weeks

DATA from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Wednesday, February 28, showed that the country recorded 477 confirmed cases of Lassa fever out of the cumulative 2,629 suspected cases reported between January 1 and February 18, 2024.

The NCDC 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 the blood of infected rats or contaminated objects, faeces, saliva, or the 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.

The NCDC data also confirmed the country lost 85 people to the infection during the seven weeks in review, with a case fatality rate (CFR) of 17.8 per cent, which is marginally lower than the CFR for the same period in 2023 (18.1 per cent).


 

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According to the report, 24 states have recorded at least one confirmed case across 89 Local Government Areas in 2024.

Out of the total confirmed cases of Lassa fever, 64 per cent were reported from three states – Ondo, Edo and Bauchi, while 36 per cent were reported from 17 states.

Of the 64 per cent confirmed cases, Edo reported the highest number with 119 (25 per cent), followed by Ondo with 108 (23 per cent), and Bauchi with 76 (16 per cent).

Latest report shows a decrease in confirmed cases

Meanwhile, the report revealed that in week seven,  66 cases were confirmed out of the 507 suspected cases reported across 12 states.

The number of new confirmed cases decreased from 83 in week six to 66 in week seven. 

It further stressed that 13 deaths were reported, with a case fatality rate of 19.7 per cent.

The states where the cases were reported were Edo, Ondo, Kogi, Ebonyi, Bauchi, Cross River, Taraba, Enugu, Imo, Delta, Niger, and Yobe States.

Nigeria lost over 200 lives to Lassa fever in 2023

A report by the Centre in 2023 said the nation might have recorded the highest number of Lassa fever cases, with 9,155 suspected cases, confirmed cases, and 227 deaths across 28 states that year.

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

The deaths reported in 2023 were with a case fatality rate (CFR) of 17.9 per cent, which was higher than the CFR for the same period in 2022 (17.7 per cent).

Edo, Ondo, Bauchi, Taraba and Benue led the chart of states with the highest recorded confirmed cases of Lassa fever.

The ICIR reported that the NCDC, in December 2023, raised an alarm over the continuous surge in the number of reported cases. 






     

     

    This surge was attributed to various factors, including community awareness, environmental degradation resulting from climate change, and other detrimental human activities in the environment.

    The NCDC explained that the time between infection and the manifestation 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 noted 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, were at great risk of contracting the disease.

    The symptoms of the disease, according to the Centre, 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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