By Sola Ogundipe
A total of 103 people died from 586 confirmed cases of Lassa fever out of 2,176 suspected cases in 101 Local Government Areas of 26 States of the Federation within the first seven weeks of 2020.
An update of the Lassa fever Situation Report (Epi Week 07: 10 – 16 February 2020) released by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, confirmed that the deaths were reported with a case fatality rate (CFR) of 17.6 per cent which is lower than the CFR for the same period in 2019 (21.1 percent).
According to the NCDC, in week 07, the number of new confirmed cases increased from 109 cases in week 06, 2020 to 115 cases. These were reported from 16 states (Ondo, Edo, Ebonyi, Kano, Kogi, Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau, Bauchi, Enugu, Abia, Benue, Borno, Gombe, Sokoto, and Katsina).
“In total for 2020, 26 states have recorded at least one confirmed case across 101 Local Government Areas. Of all confirmed cases, 73 percent are from Edo (35 percent), Ondo (32 percent) and Ebonyi (6 percent) states.
The predominant age group affected is 21-30 years (range: <1 to 78 years, median age: 33 years). The male to female ratio for confirmed cases is 1:1.2. The number of suspected cases has significantly increased compared to that reported for the same period in 2019.
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Two new health care workers* were affected in Bauchi and Katsina states in reporting week 07, the report noted.
Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic illness caused by Lassa virus, a member of the arenavirus family of viruses.
Humans usually become infected with the Lassa virus through exposure to food or household items contaminated with urine or feces of infected Mastomys rats.
Lassa fever presents initially like malaria usually starting with a fever and general body weakness. Other symptoms of the disease appear 2 to 21 days after the first contact with the virus.
In a statement, the Director-General of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu said the health authorities are on top of the situation.
He said the Agency is working closely with the Federal Ministry of Environment, Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development and partners to rapidly control the ongoing Lassa fever outbreak.
He advised the public to ensure good personal and environmental hygiene always. Health care workers are advised to observe standard precautions always.