Lassa Fever : Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Confirms 143 deaths in 22 states Within 11 months

By Regina Onyegbula, The Nigerian Voice, Abuja

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), on Thursday, confirmed that no fewer than 143 persons had died from Lassa Fever disease within the last 11 months in 22 states.

Mr. Chimezie Anueyiagu, NCDC communications assistant, made the confirmation while presenting the situation report at a Media and Civil Society Organisation (CSOs) Advocacy meeting on Lassa fever and Cerebrospinal Meningitis (CSM) preparedness in Nigeria, on Thursday in Abuja.

Anueyiagu explained that based on collated data between January and November 11, 2018, the number of suspected cases of Lassa fever was 3,016.

According to him, the number 559 cases were confirmed positive, while 17 observed as probable cases, and 2,440 cases were confirmed negative.

'Since the outbreaks, there have been 143 deaths in confirmed cases and 17 probable cases.

'The 22 states have recorded at least one confirmed case of Lassa fever across 90 local government areas, he said.

'The rate of fatality cases is confirmed as 22.6 per cent, while explaining that probable cases were cases not tested but suspected to be a case of Lassa fever or possibly other diseases".

Anueyiagu, did not mention the states that was affected.

NCDC’s Deputy Director, Elsie Ilori, , said that there were ongoing plans to review the present guidelines as well as develop a 5-year strategic plan to tackle lassa fever incidents in Nigeria.

IIori said that the review was to enable the centre meet up with the situations recorded in the states, and lamented that the highest burden of Lassa fever was in Nigeria.

The deputy director, further expressed the centre’s fears that the Lassa fever vector might not just be rodents alone.

He noted, that the NCDC was collaborating with the World Health Organisation(WHO) on research to ascertain if there was another animal spreading the virus.

Dr. Olaolu Aderinola, NCDC’s Assistant Director, said that compared to 2017, there was a massive drop in the number of reported cases because of some breakthroughs.

Aderinola disclosed that between 2016 and 2017, there was a total of 14,542 CSM cases with 1,166 recorded deaths, while between 2017 and 2018, the number of cases recorded was 3,467 with about 303 deaths.

He noted, that some of the risk factors are:
'Living in a crowded area,
'Low humidity and smoking', etc.
And to prevent the CSM, one need to keep their environment clean, washing hands with soap and clean water, sleeping in a well ventilated room, He said.