Lassa Fever: Death toll reaches 75 as Nigeria records new cases

Lassa fever
Lassa fever

The death toll from the ongoing Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria has risen to 75, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has reported.

NCDC in its situation report on the disease released on Friday said 25 new cases of the disease were confirmed and six new deaths reported between February 11 and 17.

The report for week seven stated that the new cases were reported from eight states. These are Edo -6, Ondo -2, Ebonyi -1, Plateau -2, Taraba -4, Bauchi -8, Kogi -1 and Kebbi -1.

Six new deaths were also reported in Ondo -3, Bauchi -2 and Kogi -1.

So far, 20 states have recorded at least one confirmed case across 57 local government areas.

These states are Edo, Ondo, Bauchi, Nasarawa, Ebonyi, Plateau, Taraba, FCT, Adamawa, Gombe, Kaduna, Kwara, Benue, Rivers, Kogi, Enugu, Imo, Delta, Oyo and Kebbi.

On January 21, NCDC declared an outbreak of Lassa fever in Nigeria following an increase in the number of cases.

The Chief Executive Officer, NCDC, Chikwe Ihekweazu, said from January 1 to February 17, a total of 1139 suspected cases were reported from 19 states and the FCT.

“Of these, 355 were confirmed positive, 3 probable and 781 negative (not a case). However, 1168 suspected cases have been reported from 30 states and FCT,” he said.

The 75 deaths reported in 2019 put the case fatality ratio in confirmed cases at 21.1 per cent.

This represents a significant increase in the number of cases reported, compared to the same period in 2018.

More healthcare workers affected

Mr Ihekweazu said there has been an increase in the number of healthcare workers affected by the disease.

According to him, one new healthcare worker was affected in Edo State.


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He said 13 healthcare workers have been affected since the onset of the outbreak in seven states. The states are Edo, Ondo, Ebonyi, Rivers, Bauchi and Benue and Enugu, which recorded one death.

“Currently, 88 patients are being managed at various treatment centres across the country. These are the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH) Treatment Centre, Federal Medical Centre Owo, Federal Teaching Hospital Abakiliki, Bauchi, Plateau, Taraba and Kebbi.”

The National Lassa fever multi-partner and the multi-sectoral Emergency Operations Centre continues to coordinate the response activities at all levels,” Mr Ihekweazu said.

According to the situation report, 3872 contacts have been identified from 18 states.

“Of these 2600 that are currently being followed up, 1227 have completed 21 days follow up, while four were lost to follow up.

“63 symptomatic contacts have been identified, of which 41 have tested positive,” it said.

Lassa fever is a haemorraghic disease caused by rodents. The disease is transmitted through faeces and urine of rats.

Contact tracing is an important aspect of Lassa fever control because the disease can be transmitted through human to human contact.

The disease can be transmitted to humans via contact with food or household items contaminated with rodent urine or faeces.

Human to human infection and laboratory transmission can also occur. There is currently no approved vaccine.

Lassa fever is treatable if diagnosed early and as such Nigerians are advised to visit health facilities when sick.

NCDC said it has intensified its surveillance of the disease by deploying a
multi-sectoral one health national rapid response teams (NCDC, NFELTP, Federal Ministry of Agricultural and Federal Ministry of Environment) to Ondo, Edo and Ebonyi states.

The three states recorded the highest number of affect people since the outbreak.


Prevention of Lassa fever relies on community engagement and promoting hygienic conditions to discourage rodents from entering the houses.

In view of the outbreak, Nigerians need to take preventive measures such as keeping the environment clean, making houses free of rodents, washing hands before meals and keeping all foodstuff in tight lid containers.

In the healthcare setting, staff should consistently implement standard infection prevention and control measures when caring for patients


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