Nigeria’s death toll from Lassa fever rises to 103

Rats used to illustrate the story. [PHOTO CREDIT: BBC]
Rats used to illustrate the story. [PHOTO CREDIT: BBC]

Since the onset of the Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria, no fewer than 103 people have lost their lives to the disease, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has disclosed.

This was made known in the weekly situation report released by the health agency on Wednesday.

According to the agency, there has been a spike in the number of suspected and confirmed cases as well as in deaths from the disease.

The disease has become a yearly epidemic in Nigeria as it is diagnosed all year round, but peaks between November and May.

As of February 16, the number of newly confirmed cases increased from 109 cases in week six, to 115.

These were reported from 16 states: Ondo, Edo, Ebonyi, Kano, Kogi, Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau, Bauchi, Enugu, Abia, Benue, Borno, Gombe, Sokoto and Katsina.

Cumulatively from week one to week seven, 103 deaths have been reported with a case fatality rate (CFR) of 17.6 per cent. This is lower than the CFR for the same period in 2019 pegged at 21.1 per cent.

Also in the reporting week, two new healthcare workers were affected in Bauchi and Katsina states, bringing the number of affected health workers since January till date to 20.

So far for 2020, 26 states have recorded at least one confirmed case across 101 local government areas.

Meanwhile, as at the time of releasing the report on Wednesday, more cases have been recorded across the country, with the latest confirmed case in Lagos State.

NCDC in its clarification of the discrepancies in the new data released on Wednesday compared to death figures (70) released last week, said the discrepancies were as a result of missed deaths reported from the states.

“The deaths were not reported from week seven alone. We recently did some data validation/harmonisation with the states and found some deaths were reported retrospectively,” the NCDC said.

Of all confirmed cases, 73 per cent are from Edo, 35 per cent; Ondo, 32 per cent and Ebonyi had 6 per cent, it added.

Outbreak

Nigeria, since January, has been battling the scourge of Lassa fever outbreak.

Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF) caused by the Lassa virus. The virus is transmitted by the multimammate rat, and also spread through human to human transmission.

The disease is transmitted from the excreta or urine of the multimammate rat. Anyone who is 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 generally 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.

The disease though treatable still records a high number of deaths and confirmed cases.

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