Lassa Fever claims 149 lives in Nigeria

Lassa Fever claims 149 lives in Nigeria

Tuesday, June 14, 2016 1:14 pm

Rats are carriers of LASSA

Rats are carriers of LASSA

Kazeem Ugbodaga

The deadly Lassa Fever has claimed 149 lives in Nigeria in the last nine months, the World Health Organisation, WHO, has revealed.

Recent report released by the organisation on the situation of Lassa Fever in Nigeria showed that between August 2015 and 17 May 2016, the deadly fever killed 149 people.

During this period, WHO said it was notified of 273 cases of Lassa fever, including 149 deaths in Nigeria.

“Of these, 165 cases and 89 deaths have been confirmed through laboratory testing (CFR: 53.9%). The cases were reported from 23 states in Nigeria. Since August 2015, ten health care workers have been infected with Lassa fever virus, of which two have died. Of these ten cases, four were nosocomial infections.

“As of 17 May, 2016, eight states are currently reporting Lassa fever cases (suspected, probable, and confirmed), deaths and/or following of contacts for the maximum 21-day incubation period. Currently, 248 contacts are being followed up in the country. The other 15 previously affected states have completed the 42-day period following last known possible transmission,” the report said.

Currently, the body said two national laboratories were supporting the laboratory confirmation of Lassa fever cases by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.

It explained that all the samples were also tested for Ebola, Dengue, Yellow fever and that so far all had tested negative.

The WHO, however, said overall, the Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria showed a declining trend.

“Considering the seasonal peaks in previous years, improvements in community and health care worker awareness, preparedness and general response activities, the risk of a larger-scale outbreak is low. Nevertheless, close monitoring, active case search, contact tracing, laboratory support and disease awareness (both in community in general and specific training for health care workers) should continue,” the body said.

WHO added that considering the seasonal flare ups of cases during this time of the year, countries in West Africa that were endemic for Lassa fever were encouraged to strengthen their related surveillance systems.

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