The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said it has sent letters to states to alert the authorities on the disturbing trend of Lassa fever outbreak in the country.
In its latest situation report on the disease published recently, the agency revealed that a total of 102 infected people died from the disease in 2021.
A breakdown of the report on Week 52 which covers December 27, 2021, to January 2, 2022, shows that three new deaths were recorded.
“In week 52, the number of new confirmed cases decreased from 29 in week 51, 2021 to 28 cases,” it stated. “These were reported from Ondo, Edo, Bauchi, Kaduna and Taraba States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“Cumulatively from week 1 to week 52, 2021, 102 deaths have been reported with a case fatality rate (CFR) of 20.0% which is lower than the CFR for the same period in 2020 (20.7%). In total for 2021, 17 States have recorded at least one confirmed case across 68 Local Government Areas.”
Of all the cases confirmed last year, three states accounted for 84 per cent – Edo (42 per cent), Ondo (34 per cent), and Bauchi (eight per cent).
The predominant age group affected, according to the NCDC, is 21-30 years while the male to female ratio for confirmed cases is 1 : 0.9.
It, however, indicated that the number of suspected cases decreased compared to the figure reported for the same period in 2020.
While no new healthcare worker was affected in the reporting Week 52, the NCDC gave an assurance that the national Lassa fever multi-partner and multi-sectoral Technical Working Group (TWG) have continued to coordinate the response activities at all levels.
Lassa virus is transmitted to man by infected multi-mammate rats and humans become infected from direct contact with the urine and faeces of the rat carrying the virus.
In a bid to further tackle the disease in the new year, the NCDC said it was conducting high burden states preparedness/response engagement meeting.
It added that the National Emergency Operations Centre alert mode has been activated for effective multisectoral and multi-disciplinary coordination, stressing that the State Public Health Emergency Operations Centre has been triggered in affected states.
“The five Lassa fever molecular laboratories in the NCDC network are working full capacity to ensure that all samples are tested, and results provided within the shortest turnaround time,” the agency said.
“Confirmed cases are treated at identified treatment centres across the states. Dissemination of reviewed case management and safe burial practices guidelines. Risk communications and community engagement activities have been scaled up across states using television, radio, print, social media and other strategies.”
NCDC also said it has deployed rapid response teams to three states and the Federal Ministry of Environment has implemented Lassa fever environmental response campaign in high burden states.
Lassa fever is an acute viral illness and a viral haemorrhagic fever first reported in the Lassa community in Borno State when two missionary nurses died from an unusual febrile illness.
Since then, Nigeria has continued to report cases and outbreaks and the disease is increasingly recognised to be endemic in many parts of West Africa such as Benin Republic, Ghana, Mali and the Mano River region (Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea).
People also contract the disease by touching soiled objects, eating contaminated food, or exposure to open cuts or sores.
Secondary transmission from person to person can also occur as a result of exposure to the virus in the blood, tissue, urine, faeces or other bodily secretions of an infected patient.