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NCDC Reports 1,968 Lassa Fever Cases in 28 States: Urges Vigilance and Prevention

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has sounded the alarm, announcing that the country is grappling with a significant outbreak of Lassa fever. According to the latest data published on its official website in the Lassa Fever Situation Report for Week 37 (Sep. 11–17, 2023), a total of 1,968 Lassa fever infections have been recorded. These cases are distributed across 112 local government areas in 28 states of the federation.

Hotspots: Ondo, Edo, and Bauchi

Disturbingly, the NCDC report highlights that 75 percent of these cases have been concentrated in just three states: Ondo, Edo, and Bauchi. These states have emerged as the hotspots of the outbreak, underlining the urgent need for targeted interventions in these regions.

Understanding Lassa Fever

Lassa fever is a viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus, primarily found in West Africa, including Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and Nigeria. The virus is transmitted to humans through contact with the urine or feces of infected rodents, specifically the multimammate rat.

Lassa fever

Human Toll and Case Fatality

Tragically, the Lassa fever outbreak has already claimed lives, with at least 181 reported fatalities. The case-fatality ratio (CFR) for the infection currently stands at 16.9 percent. Notably, this CFR is slightly lower than the figure recorded for the same period in 2022, which was 19.1 percent.

Geographical Spread and Demographics

The NCDC’s report paints a concerning picture of the outbreak’s geographical spread. In 2023 alone, 28 states have reported at least one confirmed case across 112 local government areas. Out of the total confirmed cases, 75 percent have emanated from Ondo, Edo, and Bauchi, with Ondo leading at 35 percent, followed by Edo at 29 percent, and Bauchi at 11 percent.

The predominant age group affected is 21–30 years, with a median age of 32 years. The male-to-female ratio for confirmed cases stands at 1:0.9. It’s worth noting that there has been a noticeable increase in the number of suspected cases compared to the same period in 2022.

Healthcare Workers at Risk

The report brings to light another concerning aspect of the outbreak in 2023. A total of 49 healthcare workers across the country have fallen victim to Lassa fever. This highlights the vulnerability of healthcare professionals on the front lines of battling the outbreak.

Response Measures

In response to this escalating public health crisis, the National Lassa Fever Multi-Partner, Multi-Sectoral Emergency Operations Centre has been activated. The goal is to coordinate response activities at all levels to effectively combat the outbreak.

LASSA FEVER: NOA, NCDC PARTNER TO IMPROVE SAFETY AWARENESS – National  Orientation Agency

Prevention and Vigilance

The NCDC underscores the importance of prevention in dealing with Lassa fever. This includes avoiding contact with rodents and their droppings, maintaining good personal hygiene, and taking precautions when caring for infected individuals.

Moreover, early diagnosis and prompt medical care are pivotal in managing the disease and preventing complications. In light of the ongoing outbreak, heightened vigilance and adherence to preventive measures are critical to curbing the spread of Lassa fever across Nigeria.

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