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Lassa fever death toll hits 144 nationwide- NCDC

Death toll from the latest round of Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria has risen to 144, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

Its Case Fatality Rate (CFR) was put at 16.8 per cent.

The NCDC explained that it is lower than the CFR for the same period in 2019’s 23.3 per cent, which highlights improved levels of detection and case management for Lassa fever across the country.

NCDC’s Director General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, while giving an update on the disease, told reporters that in Week 10, the number of new confirmed cases decreased from 85 cases in Week Nine in 2020 to 81 cases.

He added that these were reported in 15 states of Edo, Ondo, Ebonyi, Bauchi, Taraba, Plateau, Benue, Kogi, Anambra, Delta, Enugu, Adamawa, Kaduna, Sokoto and Kebbi.

The NCDC DG further said that as for the total in 2020, 27 states had recorded at least one confirmed case across 119 local government areas.

According to him, of all confirmed cases, 74 per cent are from Edo (34 per cent), Ondo (33 per cent) and Ebonyi (seven per cent).

The DG noted that the number of suspected cases had significantly increased compared to those reported within the same period in 2019, also that NCDC had rapidly scaled up its preparedness and response for Lassa fever outbreak across the country.

According to him, the Lassa virus is transmitted to humans via contact with food or household items contaminated with rodent urine or faeces.

The NCDC boss further noted that person-to-person transmission, through contact with body fluids, such as semen, urine and blood, could also occur, particularly in hospitals lacking adequate infection prevention and control measures.

He advised health workers to maintain a high index of suspicion for the disease.

“If a patient does not respond to treatment for malaria or other febrile illnesses after 48 hours, it is important to immediately test for Lassa fever,” he said.

Prof. Wasiu Adeyemo, Chairman of Medical Advisory Committee at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) in Idi-Araba, Lagos, said the Lassa fever index patient had been discharged from the isolation ward.

Further more, the Lagos State government promised to begin eight weeks extermination of rats and fumigation of 27 model colleges with hostel facilities, abattoirs/slaughter houses, produce and regular markets against Lassa fever.