Edo and Ondo States have recorded new deaths from Lassa fever as Nigeria’s toll from the disease, since the beginning of 2022, rises to 151.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) disclosed this in its latest situation report on the outbreak of the disease in the country.
Data from the report for Week 18, which covered May 2 to 8, revealed that two more deaths were reported in the week under review.
“In week 18, the number of new confirmed cases decreased from 8 in week 17, 2022 to 3 cases,” the NCDC said. “These were reported from Edo, Ondo and Benue States.
“Cumulatively from week 1 to week 18, 2022, 151 deaths have been reported with a case fatality rate (CFR) of 19.8 per cent which is lower than the CFR for the same period in 2021 (20.6 per cent).”
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).
The new death each reported in the two states brings the toll in Ondo and Edo to 38 and 27 respectively. While both states recorded the most fatalities in 2022, Ebonyi is the third state with the highest death toll – 18.
Apart from these states, only 13 others have recorded at least one death from Lassa fever. They include Taraba – 14, Bauchi – 12, Benue and Gombe – eight, Kogi – seven, Nasarawa – six, Oyo – four, Kaduna – three, Enugu – two, as well as Anambra, Cross River, Kano, and Katsina – one.
According to the NCDC, a total of 72 new cases were suspected in 11 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), but just three cases were confirmed in three states – Edo, Ondo, and Benue, and no new healthcare worker was affected.
“In total for 2022, 23 states have recorded at least one confirmed case across 95 Local Government Areas,” it added. “Of all confirmed cases, 68 per cent are from Ondo (28 per cent), Edo (25 per cent), and Bauchi (15 per cent) States.
“The predominant age group affected is 21 – 30 years (range: <1 to 90 years, Median Age: 30 years). The male to female ratio for confirmed cases is 1:0.9. The number of suspected cases has increased compared to that reported for the same period in 2021.”
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.
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.