Lassa fever: Death toll hits 127 as cases spread to 23 states

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control says 127 people have died of Lassa fever in 2022.

This was contained in the NCDC weekly situation report on Lassa fevers, which indicated that the latest Lassa fever report is for week 12, covering March 21 to March 27.

According to the NCDC, the number of new confirmed cases decreased from 29 in week 11, to 22 cases.

It also stated that most of the newly confirmed cases were recorded in Edo, Kogi, Bauchi, Ondo, Ebonyi, Plateau and Taraba States.

The NCDC further stated that 3,542 suspected cases of the infectious disease fever have been reported across the country since the beginning of the year, of which 681 were confirmed positive.

“Cumulatively from week one to week 12, 2022, 127 deaths have been reported with a case fatality rate (CFR) of 18.6% which is lower than the CFR for the same period in 2021 (21.3%).

“In total for 2022, 23 States have recorded at least one confirmed case across 92 Local Government Areas. Of all confirmed cases, 67% are from Ondo (28%), Edo (24%) and Bauchi (15%) States.

“The predominant age-group affected is 21-30 years (Range: 1 to 80 years, Median Age: 30 years). The male to female ratio for confirmed cases is 1:0.8″

The report indicated that no new Healthcare worker was affected in the reporting week 12, adding that the National Lassa fever multi-partner, multi-sectoral Emergency Coordination Centre has been activated to coordinate response activities at all levels,” the agency stated.

Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness caused by the Lassa virus, a member of the arenavirus family of viruses and humans usually become infected with the Lassa virus through exposure to food or household items contaminated with urine or faeces of infected Mastomys rats.

The disease is endemic in the rodent population in parts of West Africa.

Lassa fever is known to be endemic in Benin, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Togo, and Nigeria, but probably exists in other West African countries as well.

According to the World Health Organisation, person-to-person infections and laboratory transmission can also occur, particularly in health care settings in the absence of adequate infection prevention and control measures.

“Diagnosis and prompt treatment are essential. The overall case-fatality rate is one per cent. Among patients who are hospitalised with severe clinical presentation of Lassa fever, case fatality is estimated at around 15 per cent. Early supportive care with rehydration and symptomatic treatment improves survival.

“About 80 per cent of people who become infected with Lassa virus have no symptoms. One in five infections result in severe disease, where the virus affects several organs such as the liver, spleen, and kidneys,” said WHO.

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