Lassa fever claims 188 lives in Nigeria in one year

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control on Thursday, in its weekly report, disclsoed that the number of new confirmed cases has decreased from 19 in week 13, to 12.

As at today, Nigeria is battling two deadly diseases – Lassa fever and Coronavirus – with  276 people infected and six killed.

While COVID-19 is a new global disease with less epidemiological information, Lassa fever has become endemic in Nigeria. The country has battled it annually for the past 50 years.

The NCDC, on Thursday, said since the onset of the 2020 Lassa fever outbreak, the country has recorded 963 confirmed cases and 188 deaths.

Last week, the total number of deaths was 185, meaning three people died from the disease within the last week.

The health agency said for reporting week 14, the number of newly confirmed cases decreased from 19 cases in week 13, to 12 cases.

The new cases were reported from Edo, Ondo, Ebonyi, Bauchi and Sokoto.

There has been a gradual reduction in new cases reported across the country in the last three consecutive weeks.

This could be as a result of the rains in some parts of the country especially in places with a high burden of the disease.

Lassa fever, diagnosed all year round, peaks in the dry season from November to May.

In the last few years, the number of suspected and confirmed cases, as well as deaths from the disease, have been rising, leading to concerns from health experts.

Every year, health workers are also affected by the disease, sometimes leading to fatalities.

However, no new healthcare worker was affected in the reporting week 14.

So far, the total number affected health workers during the outbreak is now 37.

Health workers are often in the frontlines in the treatment of Lassa fever patients and this them susceptible to contracting the disease.

Meanwhile, the weekly situation reported that three states, Edo, Ondo and Ebonyi, have the highest number of cases from the outbreak.

Of all confirmed cases, 72 per cent are from three states: Edo, 32 per cent; Ondo 32, per cent, and Ebonyi 8 per cent.

The five states with the highest number of confirmed cases are: Edo with 314 confirmed cases and 39 deaths; Ondo, 309 confirmed cases and 44 deaths; Ebonyi with 73 cases and 16 deaths; Taraba with 55 cases and 21 deaths and Bauchi with 43 cases and 18 deaths.

In total for 2020, 27 states have so far recorded at least one confirmed case across 126 local government areas.

Cumulatively from week 1 to week 14, 188 deaths have been reported with a case fatality rate (CFR) of 19. 5 per cent.

Also, there has been a significant increase in the figures when compared to the same period in 2019.

According to the statistics, cumulatively between week one and 14, 2020, there were 4287suspected cases, 963 confirmed, 14 probable and 188 deaths compared to same period in 2019 which had 2133 suspected cases, 537 confirmed, 15 probable and 123 deaths were reported.

Also, the predominant age-group affected is 21-30 years and the male to female ratio for confirmed cases is 1:1.2.

Lassa Fever is a hemorrhagic disease transmitted by a vector called multimammate rat. The virus is transmitted from the excreta or urine of the vector to humans, and from humans to humans.

Anyone suspected of being in contact with a Lassa patient needs to be presented to the health facilities within a period of 21 days.

Symptoms of the disease at early stages are similar to febrile illness such as malaria.

General symptoms include fever, headache, sore throat, general body weakness, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pains, chest pain, and in severe cases, unexplainable bleeding from ears, eyes, nose, mouth, vagina, anus and other body orifices. It could also present persistent bleeding from sites of intravenous cannulation.


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