NCDC confirms 70 deaths from Lassa fever

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An ecologist extracts a sample of blood from a Mastomys Natalensis rodent in the village of Jormu in southeastern Sierra Leone February 8, 2011. Lassa fever, named after the Nigerian town where it was first identified in 1969, is among a U.S. list of "category A" diseases -- deemed to have the potential for major public health impact -- alongside anthrax and botulism. The disease is carried by the Mastomys Natalensis rodent, found across sub-Saharan Africa and often eaten as a source of protein. It infects an estimated 300,000-500,000 people each year, and kills about 5,000. Picture taken February 8, 2011. To match Reuters-Feature BIOTERROR-AFRICA/ REUTERS/Simon Akam (SIERRA LEONE - Tags: HEALTH SOCIETY ANIMALS) - GM1E72F07HC01

A total of 70 people died from 472 confirmed cases of Lassa Fever out of 1,708 suspected cases in 92 Local Government Areas of 26 States of the Federation within the first six weeks of 2020.

An update of the Lassa fever Situation Report (Epi Week 06: 03 – 09 February 2020) released by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, confirmed that the deaths were reported with a case fatality rate (CFR) of 14.8 per cent which is lower than the CFR for the same period in 2019 (18.7 per cent).

“In week 06, the number of new confirmed cases increased from 104 cases in week 05, 2020 to 109 cases. These were reported from 19 states (Ondo, Edo, Ebonyi, Kano, Kogi, Kaduna, Delta, Taraba, Plateau, Bauchi, Enugu, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Rivers, Katsina, Benue, Adamawa, Sokoto and Oyo).”

According to the update, In total for 2020, 26 states have recorded at least one confirmed case across the 92 LGAs.

“Of all confirmed cases, 74 per cent are from Edo (35 per cent), Ondo (33 per cent) and Ebonyi (6 per cent) states. The predominant age-group affected is 21-30 years with a male to female ratio for confirmed cases of 1:1.2.

“The number of suspected cases has significantly increased compared to that reported for the same period in 2019 even as four new cases of healthcare workers affected in Ondo, Delta and Kaduna states were reported within the period in question, ” the report noted.

Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic 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 faeces 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 two 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.

Source: Vanguard NGR

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