NCDC Raises the Alarm over Rising Cases of Lassa Fever

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Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has reported a sharp increase in the case of Lassa fever across the country.

According to the weekly situation report issued yesterday, the agency said the number of new confirmed cases has increased from 64 cases in the first week of January to 81.

The report put the number of fatality in 2019 at 33, while 24 has been recorded in 2020.

It added that there were reports of new infections from six states – Ondo, Edo, Delta, Taraba, Plateau and Bauchi.

According to the state-by-state epidemic report, Ondo has 81 reported cases, Edo has 58, Ebonyi seven, Taraba six, Plateau three, Bauchi four, Ogun one and Abia one.

However, NCDC said the number of deaths arising from Lassa fever has decreased, adding that the overall case fatality rate (CFR) for 2020 was 14.7 per cent which is lower than the CFR for the same period during 2019 (23.4 per cent).

“In total for 2020, nine states have recorded at least one confirmed case across 32 local government areas. The predominant age-group affected is 11-40 years (range: 11 to 60 years, Median age: 33 years). The male to female ratio for confirmed cases is 1:1,” the agency said.

NCDC noted that although the number of suspected cases has increased, it’s lower than the numbers reported in 2019.

It said no health care worker has suffered any infection or identified as being among the fatality so far recorded.

NCDC listed some of the root causes of Lassa fever and challenges limiting efforts to check its spread to include poor environmental sanitation conditions, observed in high burden communities, poor risk communication activities at the state level leading to late presentation and sustainability of Lassa fever outbreak response by states.

NCDC added that confirmed cases of Lassa fever are treated at identified treatment centres across the states with Ribavirin with necessary supportive management also instituted.

Additionally, the agency said it’s undertaking dissemination of reviewed case management and safe burial practices guidelines.