Lassa Fever Outbreak in Nigeria…
Since the beginning of 2022, the Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC) has documented 158 cases of Lassa fever in 24 States amidst the ongoing global COVID-19 epidemic.
Lassa fever, a zoonotic (animal-borne) acute viral disease, has been reported to be endemic in Nigeria and its neighboring countries Benin, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, and Sierra Leone. Lassa fever is spread by the common African rat.
According to the NCDC’s records, during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, 1,165 cases of Lassa fever were confirmed, whereas, in 2019, 796 cases were reported. Additionally, 4,632 suspected cases were confirmed in 2021.
There’s been a surge in the number of Lassa fever outbreaks in Nigeria. According to the NCDC’s 2022 weekly report, 158 deaths have been reported overall from Week 1 to Week 24 of 2022, with a Case Fatality Rate (CFR) of 19.8%, which is lower than the CFR for the same period in 2021, which was 20.5%.
There are now eight additional confirmed cases, up from seven in week 23 of 2022.
99 Local Government Areas in 24 States have reported at least one confirmed case, With Ondo (29 %), Edo (25 %), and Bauchi (14 %) States accounting for 68 percent of all confirmed cases.
The age range most commonly affected is between 21 and 30. For confirmed cases, the male-to-female ratio is 1:.9.
The NCDC has recorded an increase in the number of recurring cases compared to the number recorded for the same period in 2021.
The agency has stated that people can contract Lassa fever if they come into contact with food that has been contaminated with a rat’s urine or feces.
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Furthermore, according to the agency’s report, human-to-human transmission is rare, but it can happen if someone comes into contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids.
Symptoms often appear between one and three weeks following exposure to the virus. Fever, lethargy, exhaustion, and headaches are symptoms of the condition in mild cases.
More severe symptoms include bleeding, breathing difficulties, vomiting, facial swelling, back, stomach, and chest discomfort, as well as shock.
According to the NCDC, supportive care, such as rehydration and symptomatic therapy, can increase survival rates.
The National Lassa Fever Technical Working Group (TWG) is working hard to provide a response at all levels.
Efforts to develop a vaccine against Lassa fever are ongoing, and some candidate vaccines have successfully completed phase II of vaccination trials.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported earlier this year that, in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lassa fever, which has claimed three lives in Britain, is another cause for alarm. The number of deaths was confirmed by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) in a statement on February 11.
According to the report, the three cases in the East of England involved the same family and were connected to recent travel to West Africa.
Recent outbreaks of Lassa fever in Nigeria and other regions of Africa have increased pandemic anxiety because there is no vaccine to prevent the disease.
In order to avoid contracting an infection, the NCDC has warned Nigerians to avoid all contact with rats. Rat traps and storing food in rat-proof containers are recommended ways one can prevent themselves from contracting this virus.