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NCDC Reports 1,968 Lassa Fever Cases Across 28 States in Nigeria

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has recently reported a concerning surge in Lassa fever cases, with a total of 1,968 infections identified across 112 local government areas in 28 states of the federation. This update was shared via the official NCDC website as part of its Lassa Fever Situation Report for Week 37, covering September 11 to 17, 2023.

It is noteworthy that a significant majority, specifically 75 percent, of these cases were concentrated in three states: Ondo, Edo, and Bauchi. Lassa fever is a viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus, primarily found in West Africa, including Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and Nigeria.

This virus is transmitted to humans through contact with the urine or feces of infected rodents, specifically the multimammate rat. Alarming statistics reveal that as of now, there are approximately 7,352 individuals with suspected cases of Lassa fever in Nigeria. Tragically, the infection has led to the loss of at least 181 lives within the country, with a case-fatality ratio of 16.9 percent.

Comparing data from week 1 to week 37 in 2023, this year’s case-fatality rate of 16.9 percent represents a slight decrease from the 2022 figure of 19.1 percent. In total, 28 states in Nigeria have reported at least one confirmed Lassa fever case, spanning 112 local government areas. Of these cases, Ondo reported 35 percent, Edo 29 percent, and Bauchi 11 percent.

The most affected age group is individuals between 21 and 30 years, with cases ranging from 1 to 93 years, and a median age of 32 years. The male-to-female ratio for confirmed cases stands at 1:0.9. This year has also seen an increase in the number of suspected Lassa fever cases compared to the same period in 2022.

Sadly, in 2023, Lassa fever has affected 49 healthcare workers across the country. In response to this growing crisis, the National Lassa Fever Multi-Partner, Multi-Sectoral Emergency Operations Centre has been activated to coordinate response activities at all levels.

Preventing Lassa fever involves several key measures, including avoiding contact with rodents and their droppings, maintaining good personal hygiene, and taking precautions when caring for infected individuals. Early diagnosis and prompt medical care are crucial in managing the disease and preventing potentially severe complications.

As Nigeria grapples with this ongoing health challenge, vigilance and public awareness are vital to curbing the spread of Lassa fever and protecting the nation’s citizens.

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