Lassa fever killed 42 persons in Nigeria and afflicted 213 others in the first month of this year, with the viral disease spreading to 16 states of the country, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
The 42 deaths, it noted, represent a case fatality rate of 19.7 per cent.
The NCDC said that since the onset of the 2019 outbreak, from January 1-27, a total of 538 suspected cases had been reported from 16 states, with 213 confirmed positive, two probable and 325 negative.
In all, the disease has been reported in 40 local government areas (LGAs) across the country, with the Centre stating that the 16 affected states had recorded at least one confirmed case across 40 LGAs.
According to NCDC’s report, “In the reporting Week 04, one new healthcare worker was affected in Enugu State. A total of four health care workers have been affected since the onset of the outbreak in three states: Ondo 2, Ebonyi 1 and Enugu 1, with no deaths.”
The report noted that 102 patients are currently being managed at Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH) Treatment Centre, Edo State; 40 at Federal Medical Centre, Owo; five in Bauchi, eight in Plateau, three in Taraba, and six in Ebonyi, among others.
The NCDC had on January 21, 2019, declared an outbreak of Lassa fever following a marked increase in the number of cases.
The World Health Organisation (WHO), however puts the number of deaths at 41.
WHO listed the affected states to include Edo, Ondo, Ebonyi, Bauchi, Plateau, Taraba, Gombe, Anambra, Kaduna, Kwara, FCT, Benue, Rivers, Nasarawa and Kogi states.
WHO said this represents a significant increase in the number of reported cases when compared to the same period in 2018.
WHO Officer in Charge (OIC) of Nigeria, Dr Peter Clement, said that in response to the recent outbreak, WHO had reorganised its staff to provide assistance to each of the response pillars and had also directed field offices to assist in outbreak investigation, coordination and response activities at the state level.
“WHO is supporting coordination, enhanced surveillance, contact tracing, and risk communication. We are also mobilising experts to support case management and detailed epidemiological analysis to monitor the situation in the affected states,” he said.
Dr. Clement added that through the polio infrastructure in the state field offices, WHO was also providing technical assistance and coordination of partners in the affected states.
LEADERSHIP Weekend recalls that in April 2018, the NCDC had through the Federal Ministry of Health declared the emergency phase of the Lassa fever outbreak over.
The minister of health, Professor Isaac Adewole, had made the declaration following the declining number of confirmed cases of Lassa fever recorded in the last few weeks before the declaration.
According to the NCDC, from January 1, 2018, a total of 423 confirmed cases were recorded over an 18-week period and 106 deaths reported.
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