Saturday, 21 July, 2018

Lassa fever: Nigeria recorded 43 deaths in two months

Lassa fever outbreak hits record high 90 deaths HealthLassa fever outbreak hits record high 90 deaths By Judd-Leonard Okafor @judd_leonard | Publish Date Feb 28 2018 2:17PM
Melissa Porter | 03 March, 2018, 06:53

Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has revealed that the number of recorded Lassa fever cases in Nigeria has risen to 317.

Nigeria's Centre for Disease Control said Wednesday that it was facing an "unprecedented outbreak" that has spread to 18 states since it began in January.

World Health Organization and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control are responding to the outbreak.

"The ability to rapidly detect cases of infection in the community and refer them early for treatment improves patients' chances of survival and is critical to this response", Wondimagegnehu Alemu, WHO representative to Nigeria, said in a news release.

The GHS in February issued an alert of the likelihood of outbreak of Lassa fever in the country. Health officials are also conducting surveillance and contact tracing, along with laboratory testing and what WHO is calling community engagement.

Some of the states most affected by the outbreak are Edo, which has recorded the highest number of suspected cases, Ondo and Ebonyi. Fourteen health workers were infected, of whom four died within eight weeks.

Ihekweazu said despite the challenges, the federal government, through the centre and its partners, have ensured that every patient diagnosed with Lassa fever has gotten appropriate treatment.

NCDC has supplied Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital and Federal Medical Centre Owo with tents and beds to increase in-patient capacity.

The agency in its weekly epidemiological report for Week 5 said 193 cases have been confirmed positive to the Lassa fever virus giving a case fatality rate of 23.9 per cent.

It also hopes to reduce further infections to hospital staff.

Nigeria has reported 317 confirmed cases in two months, more than the total for all of past year.

Lassa Fever is transmitted to humans via contact with food or household items contaminated with the urine, saliva faeces, and blood of infected rodents.

"There may also be transmission in health care settings, either from patients to health care workers or patients to patients", David Heyman, MD, a professor of epidemiology and population health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. An overall moderate level of risk remains at the regional level. Health care workers seeing a patient suspected to have Lassa fever should immediately contact local and national experts for guidance and to arrange for laboratory testing.