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FG declares Lassa fever outbreak


The Federal Government, through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has declared Lassa fever outbreak in the country.

This followed increase in the number of Lassa fever cases reported in states since the beginning of the year.

This came on the heels of the Lassa Fever International Conference held in Abuja, to mark 50th year anniversary of the discovery of the disease in Nigeria.

Each year, Lassa fever kills many and leaves most of its survivours with disability, often due to the side effects of the drugs they received.

The viral disease is contracted from the feaces of the multi-mammate rat and often transmitted via human-to-human contact.

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NCDC, in a statement released, yesterday, said recent epidemiological data showed that this trend usually occurs during the dry season, between January and April.

“As at January 13, a total of 60 confirmed cases have been reported in eight states,” NCDC said.

Declaring an outbreak means the NCDC has activated an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to coordinate a response.

The national EOC includes representatives from the World Health Organisation (WHO), Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Federal Ministry of Environment, US Centres for Disease Control, as well as other partners.

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The centre said in preparation for this year’s emergency phase, the agency has been providing support to states including the provision of emergency supplies and deployment of Rapid Response Teams (RRT).

NCDC added: “The RRTs will work with states, in response coordination, contact tracing, case management, risk communication and strengthening infection prevention and control practices.”

This, they said, has been going on since 2018 when Nigeria experienced the largest reported case of the outbreak since the history of the disease in the country.

In 2018,  3,498 suspected cases were reported from 23 states. Of these, 633 were confirmed positive, 20 probable and 2853 negative (not a case).

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Also in 2018, 171 deaths among the confirmed cases and 20 probable cases were reported, making the case fatality rate in confirmed cases as high as 27 per cent.

Although the disease is prevalent in Edo, Ondo and Ebonyi states, 20 other states recorded at least one confirmed case across 93 councils.

They are Edo, Ondo, Bauchi, Nasarawa, Ebonyi, Anambra, Benue, Kogi, Imo, Plateau, Lagos, Taraba, Delta, Osun, Rivers, FCT, Gombe, Ekiti, Kaduna, Abia, Adamawa, Enugu and Kano.

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