Lassa fever: Nigeria confirms 8 new infections, as death toll hits 171

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By Abujah Racheal

Abuja, Sept. 18, 2022 The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has recorded eight additional Lassa fever infections and one death between Sept. 5 and 11, 2022.

The NCDC via its official website said the new cases bring the total number of confirmed cases and deaths in the country to 917 and 171, respectively.

It disclosed that 25 states had recorded at least one confirmed case across 102 local government areas.

According to NCDC, a total of 6,660 suspected cases have been reported in the country.

The public health agency disclosed that of the new confirmed cases, Ondo accounted for 32 per cent, Edo 26 per cent and Bauchi 13 per cent.

“In week 36 (September 5 to 11, 2022); the number of new confirmed cases decreased from 10 in week 35, 2022 to 8 cases. These were reported from Ondo, Edo, Bauchi, and Anambra states.

“Cumulatively from week 1 to week 36, 2022, 171 deaths have been reported with a Case Fatality Rate (CFR) of 18.6 people which is lower than the CFR for the same period in 2021 (23.3 per cent).

“The predominant age group affected is 21-30 years (Range: 0 to 90 years, Median Age: 30 years). The male-to-female ratio for confirmed cases is 1:0.8.

“The number of suspected cases has increased compared to that reported for the same period in 2021. No new healthcare worker affected in the reporting week 36,” it said.

It said the National Lassa fever multi-partner, multi-sectoral Technical Working Group (TWG) has continued to coordinate the response activities at all levels.

“The country’s response activities continue in all areas, particularly in areas of state advocacy, personal protective equipment (IPC) support, and laboratory diagnostics,” it added.

The NCDC said that to reduce the risk of Lassa fever, Nigerians should ensure proper environmental sanitation, “that is, keep your environment clean at all times, block all holes in your house to prevent rats from entry”.

It advised to Nigerians to cover dustbins and dispose of refuse properly.

“Communities should set up dumpsites far from their homes to reduce the chances of having rodents within homes; store foodstuff like rice, maize grits, beans, corn/maize, etc in containers that are well covered with tight-fitting lids.

“Avoid drying foodstuff outside on the floor, roadside where they will be exposed to contamination; avoid bush burning which can lead to the displacement of rats from bushes to human dwellings.

“Eliminate rats in homes and communities by setting rat traps and other means; practice good personal hygiene by frequent washing hands with soap under running water or use hand sanitisers when appropriate, and visit the nearest health facility if you notice any of the signs and symptoms of Lassa fever as mentioned earlier, and avoid self-medication,” it advised.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness caused by the Lassa virus.

People usually become infected with the Lassa virus through exposure to food or household items contaminated with urine or faeces of infected rats – present in several West African countries where the disease is endemic.

The virus can also be spread through infected bodily fluids.

People also contract the disease by touching soiled objects, eating contaminated food, or exposure to open cuts or sores.

Secondary transmission from person to person can also occur as a result of exposure to the virus in the blood, tissue, urine, faeces or other bodily secretions of an infected patient.