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Lassa Fever: Nigeria’s public health actions trigger decline in reported cases – WHO

By Luminous Jannamike

ABUJA – The World Health Organisation, WHO, says Lassa fever outbreak, measured by the number of weekly reported cases and deaths, has shown a decreasing trend in Nigeria in the most recent four weeks.

This was disclosed by the WHO in its disease outbreak report released over the weekend in Abuja.

Lassa-fever

According to the report, from January 1st through March 18th 2018, 1495 suspected cases and 119 deaths were reported from 19 states. During that period, 376 patients were confirmed, nine were classified as probable, 1084 tested negative and 26 are awaiting laboratory results. (pending).

Among the 376 cases classified as confirmed and nine classified as probable, 95 deaths were reported indicating a case fatality rate for confirmed and probable cases of 24.7 percent.

It, however, said that robust public health actions by the Federal Ministry of Health in partnership with key stakeholders, in the domains of enhanced surveillance, contact tracing, strengthening of diagnostic capacity, case management, infection prevention and control, and risk communication, triggered a downward trend in the number of reported cases and deaths beginning from mid-February.

WHO also warned that the declining trend needs to be interpreted with caution as historical data shows that the high transmission period has not passed; adding that Nigeria’s porous borders still indicate a risk of spread from neighbouring countries.

“Since 1 January 2018, the number of Lassa fever cases increased from 10 to 70 weekly reported cases. However since mid-February, there has been a downward trend in the weekly reported number of Lassa fever cases.

“This declining trend needs to be interpreted with caution as historical data shows that the high transmission period has not passed. An overall moderate level of risk remains at the regional level,” the report said.

While urging citizens to continue their participation in relevant community engagements and promotion of  hygienic conditions to discourage rodents from entering homes, WHO said greater coordination and information sharing regarding Lassa fever cases and contacts with Benin republic would contribute to rapid detection and response to cross-border spread of the outbreak.

 


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