Nigeria’s death toll from Lassa fever has risen to 127 after four more infected patients lost the battle to the disease.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) disclosed this in its latest situation report on the management of the outbreak of the disease in the country.
“Cumulatively from week 1 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%),” said the agency in the report covering March 21 to 27.
The Lassa virus is transmitted by infected multi-mammate rats and humans become infected from direct contact with the urine and faeces of the rat carrying the virus.
It is an acute viral illness and a viral haemorrhagic fever contracted by touching soiled objects, eating contaminated food, or exposure to open cuts or sores.
Data from the report shows that 224 suspected cases were logged from 14 local government areas across seven states in the reporting week, but only 22 of them were confirmed.
As a result, Nigeria has confirmed a total of 681 infections out of the 3,542 suspected cases reported from 92 local government areas across 23 states, since the beginning of the year.
“In total for 2022, 23 States have recorded at least one confirmed case across 92 Local Government Areas,” the report revealed. “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 number of suspected cases has increased compared to that reported for the same period in 2021.”
While there was no new healthcare worker reported to have been infected in reporting week 12, the agency said it has activated the national Lassa fever multi-partner and multi-sectoral Emergency Coordination Centre (EOC) to coordinate response activities at all levels.
It added that alert letters have been sent to states, in addition to carrying out preparedness assessments for the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
According to the agency, the Lassa fever molecular laboratories in its network have increased to eight and are working at full capacity to ensure all samples are tested, and results are provided within the shortest turnaround time.
It said confirmed cases were treated at identified treatment centres across the states while risk communications and community engagement activities have been scaled up using television, radio, print, social media and other strategies.