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Lassa fever: Nigeria at high risk of transmission- NCDC

To coordinate and bolster ongoing response efforts throughout the nation, the Nigeria Center for Disease Control and Prevention has created the national multisectoral Emergency Operations Centre for Lassa Fever.

At the same time, it was revealed that there have been 37 fatalities and 244 confirmed cases of Lassa fever.

After a risk assessment revealed that Nigeria was at extremely high danger of increased Lassa fever transmission, the Lassa fever Emergency Operations Centre was established.

According to the assessment, there has been an unprecedented increase in the number of confirmed cases reported compared to previous years, as well as an increase in the number of states reporting cases. There has also been an increase in the risk of Lassa fever infection among healthcare workers, including infections and fatalities.

Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus. The natural reservoir for the virus is the Mastomys natalensis rodent (commonly known as the multimammate rat or the African rat). Other rodents can also be carriers of the virus.

The NCDC said the activation of the EOC was done to achieve a coordinated national response, particularly across the affected states, to interrupt disease transmission, reduce the impact of the disease by reducing suffering and death, and other socioeconomic complications of this disease. The agency’s press release was signed by the director general of the NCDC, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, on Monday.

The LF-EOC was activated after a risk assessment conducted on January 20, 2023 by subject matter experts from the NCDC, pertinent Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, stakeholders, and important partners. The risk assessment’s findings indicated that there is a very high risk of increased Lassa fever transmission throughout the nation.

Ondo (90), Edo (89), Bauchi (13), Taraba (10), Benue (9), Ebonyi (9), Nasarawa (7), Plateau (5), Kogi (4), Anambra (2), Delta (1), Oyo (1), Adamawa (1), Enugu (1), Imo (1), and FCT were among the 16 states and the FCT with 244 confirmed cases and 37 deaths, with a case fatality rate of 15.1% overall (1).

“Five confirmed cases of infection and one confirmed death among healthcare professionals, respectively, underline the need for a higher index of suspicion among healthcare personnel.

“Healthcare is a shared duty of all levels of government and communities. We rely on the cooperation and support of States in the formulation and implementation of evidence-driven epidemic response plans for respective territories, even though the NCDC is tasked to lead prevention, emergency preparedness, and response to public health catastrophes.

It was highlighted that, prior to the activation of the EOC, the Nigerian government had put policies in place through the multisectoral Lassa Fever Technical Working Group of the NCDC to address the increasing number of Lassa fever patients.

It added that the government had repositioned medicines and commodities to support Lassa fever response management, deployed the national rapid response teams to hotspot states to support contact tracing, case management, risk communication, and community engagement, among others.


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