Nigeria has seen 1,068 Lassa fever cases across the country over the last nine months, according to new data released by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC).
A total of 181 deaths were reported within the period, with a case fatality rate (CFR) of 16.9 per cent which is lower than the CFR for the same period in 2022 (19.1 percent).
In total for 2023, 28 states have recorded at least one confirmed case across 112
Local Government Areas while 75 percent of all approved Lassa fever cases were reported from Ondo, Edo, and Bauchi.
The rest, 25 percent, were reported from 25 states with confirmed Lassa fever cases.
The male-to-female ratio for confirmed cases is 1 to 0.9.
The number of suspected cases increased compared to that reported for the same period in 2022.
The report shows no new healthcare worker was affected in week 37.
The NCDC said it’s national Lassa fever multi-partner, multi-sectoral Technical Working Group (TWG)
continues coordinating the response activities at all levels.
Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness transmitted to humans through contact with food or household items contaminated by rodents infected with the Lassa fever virus. Person-to-person transmission can also occur, particularly in a hospital environment with inadequate infection control measures.
Like several other countries in West Africa, the disease is endemic in Nigeria and is often recorded during the dry season between November and May.
Lassa fever presents initially like any other febrile illness, such as malaria. Its symptoms include fever, headache, sore throat, general body weakness, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pains, chest pain, and in severe cases, unexplainable bleeding from ears, eyes, nose, mouth, and other body openings.
The time between infection and the appearance of symptoms of the disease is between three to 21 days. However, early treatment and diagnosis increase the chances of survival.
To reduce the risk of the spread of Lassa fever, the NCDC has advised Nigerians to ensure proper environmental sanitation; dispose of refuse properly, store foodstuff like rice, garri, beans, and corn among other raw foods in containers with tight-fitting lids.
Nigerians are also urged to avoid bush burning, eliminate rats in homes and communities by setting rat traps and other means, and practice good personal hygiene by frequent handwashing with soap under running water or use of hand sanitisers when appropriate.
The centre urges Nigerians to visit the nearest health facility if they notice any of the signs and symptoms of Lassa fever, and avoid self-medication.
It is also advised that health care workers practice standard precautions and to maintain a high index of suspicion at all times.