Lassa Fever: Five new deaths recorded in three states

Rats used to illustrate the story.
Rats used to illustrate the story.

Five new deaths have been recorded in three states in the ongoing Lassa fever outbreak ravaging the country since the beginning of the year.

The states are Edo, Ondo and Bauchi.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, (NCDC) on Saturday in its weekly situation report on the outbreak also said 15 new cases were reported in six states.

Reporting for week 12, the 15 new cases were reported in Edo (4), Ondo (3), Plateau (2), Bauchi (3), Taraba (2) and Ebonyi (1) with five new deaths in Edo (2), Ondo (2) and Bauchi (1) States.

Nigeria has been experiencing Lassa fever outbreak since the beginning of the year. NCDC on January 21, had declared a Lassa fever emergency in the country.

‘Irregular trend’

Judging by the weekly situation reports over the last 12 weeks, there has been an inregular pattern in the numbers of new cases reported.

The country had been reporting a steady trend until there was a sudden surge in week 10 where the number of newly confirmed cases doubled.

However, in week 11 and 12, there has been a downward trend as 23 and 15 new cases were reported respectively as compared to week 10, where 53 new cases were reported.

Grim statistics

In the reporting Week 12 (March 18 to 24)) 21 States; Edo, Ondo, Bauchi, Nasarawa, Ebonyi, Plateau, Taraba, FCT, Adamawa, Gombe, Kaduna, Kwara, Benue, Rivers, Kogi, Enugu, Imo, Delta, Oyo, Kebbi and Cross River have recorded at least one confirmed case across 74 Local Government Areas.

From January 1 to March 24, 1924 suspected cases have been reported from 21 states. Of these, 510 were confirmed positive, 15 probable and 1511 negative (not a case).

The annual report by NCDC last December showed that there were 171 deaths with 3,493 suspected cases in 23 states in 2018

Since the onset of the 2019 outbreak, there have been 119 deaths in confirmed cases. Case fatality ratio in confirmed cases is 22.9 per cent.

Also in the reporting week 12, no new healthcare worker was affected.

So far, 16 healthcare workers have been infected since the onset of the outbreak in seven States – Edo (7), Ondo (3), Ebonyi (2), Enugu (1), Rivers (1), Bauchi (1) and Benue (1) with two deaths in Enugu and Edo States.

Also, Edo State has been topping the chart of the highest burden of the disease, followed by Ondo, Ebonyi and Bauchi.

Treatment centres

Currently, 32 patients are being managed at various treatment centres across the country: Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital(ISTH) treatment Centre (13), Federal Medical Centre Owo (9), Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki (3), Bauchi (2), Plateau (3) and Taraba (2).

Also, 6320 contacts have been identified from 20 States.

Of these, 1567 are currently being followed up, 4690 have completed 21 days follow up, while eight were lost to follow up.

Also, 110 symptomatic contacts have been identified, of which 55 have tested positive.

Contact tracing

The Director General, NCDC, Chikwe Ihekweazu, had earlier in a press briefing on the disease said contact tracing is an important step taken by the health agency to curb the spread of the disease.

Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness which is been transmitted to human via contact with rodents or human to human transmission.

Person-to-person infections and laboratory transmission also occur particularly in hospitals due to lack of adequate infection prevention and control measures.

Mr Ihekweazu said the multi -sectoral one health national rapid response teams (NCDC, NFELTP, Federal Ministry of Agricultural and Federal Ministry of Environment) have been deployed to Taraba and Bauchi States as well as other high burden states.

Also, the National Lassa fever multi-partner, multi-sectoral Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) continues to coordinate the response activities at all levels.

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