The Nigerian Government Center for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) declared a level two emergency on Wednesday due to the “unprecedented” increase in the country in cases of Lassa fever, of viral origin. which can cause pulmonary effusions, oral, nasal, vaginal or gastrointestinal bleeding and hypotension. In the first three weeks of January alone, 244 confirmed cases and 37 deaths were identified, placing Nigeria at very high risk of increased transmission of this disease, according to Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, director general of the NCDC, under the Government. The emergency declaration implies the activation of a national operations center to coordinate and strengthen response activities to the outbreak.
The latest NCDC report on Lassa fever, published on January 22, already warned of the increase in infections compared to previous years, with a fatality rate of 15.1% and cases in 16 of the 36 states of the country, in addition to the federal capital, Abuja. Specifically, the most affected territories are Ondo and Edo, in the south, with 90 and 89 infections in January, respectively. The disease is also spreading in Bauchi, Taraba, Benue, Ebonyi, Nasarawa, Plateau, Kogi, Anambra, Delta, Oyo, Adamawa, Enugu, Imo, Kogi and Abuja.
In all of 2022, 1,038 confirmed cases and 183 deaths were identified in a total of 111 municipalities belonging to 27 states of the country and again Ondo, Edo and Bauchi were the most affected, with 71% of the cases. The most affected age group was people between the ages of 21 and 30, according to the NCDC.
In all of 2022, 1,038 confirmed cases and 183 deaths were identified in a total of 111 municipalities in Nigeria
Lassa fever is endemic in Nigeria and other West African countries, notably Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, Benin, Togo, and Ghana. The peak of cases usually occurs in the dry season, between the months of December and April. Faced with the worrying evolution of the disease last year, the NCDC, under the Nigerian government, already took several measures in November such as purchasing additional medicines, preparing adequate facilities and deploying rapid response teams to monitor the contacts, case management, awareness and community work.
It is a viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus that is transmitted to humans through contact with animals or household utensils contaminated with the urine or feces of rats of the genus mastomies, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The natural reservoir of the virus is the African soft-furred rat, present in many countries on the continent, although other rodents can also be transmission vectors. The increase in cases coincides with the period after the reproduction cycle of rats, which occurs with the wet season between May and November.
In addition to contagion through contact with contaminated objects, the virus is also transmitted between humans through contact with fluids from sick people. The WHO ensures that 80% of cases are asymptomatic, but that in one in five people it manifests itself with fever, headache and muscle pain, vomiting and diarrhea and, in the most serious cases, multi-organ dysfunction and bleeding. Early diagnosis is critical in dealing with outbreaks and Nigeria had been able to improve its response capacity in recent years. However, the efforts made to treat covid-19 to the detriment of other diseases, the inequalities in the possibilities of care between some states and others, and the insufficient application of prevention measures are factors that have contributed to the worsening of the outbreak. current, according to the WHO.
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