Lassa Fever: 29 Killed, 195 Cases Confirmed As Spreads It To 11 States

An ecologist extracts a sample of blood from a Mastomys Natalensis rodent in the village of Jormu in southeastern Sierra Leone February 8, 2011. Lassa fever, named after the Nigerian town where it was first identified in 1969, is among a U.S. list of "category A" diseases -- deemed to have the potential for major public health impact -- alongside anthrax and botulism. The disease is carried by the Mastomys Natalensis rodent, found across sub-Saharan Africa and often eaten as a source of protein. It infects an estimated 300,000-500,000 people each year, and kills about 5,000. Picture taken February 8, 2011. To match Reuters-Feature BIOTERROR-AFRICA/ REUTERS/Simon Akam (SIERRA LEONE - Tags: HEALTH SOCIETY ANIMALS) - GM1E72F07HC01

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says 195 cases of Lassa fever have been confirmed and that 29 deaths have been reported in 11 states as of January 24.

The centre said of the confirmed cases, 89% are from Ondo, Edo and Ebonyi.

The NCDC said it activated a national emergency operations centre (EOC) to coordinate response activities on the disease.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the centre said the national EOC which was set up on January 24, includes representatives of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), federal ministry of agriculture and rural development, federal ministry of environment, World Health Organisation ( WHO), United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), US Centre for Disease Control, and other partners.

It said two health workers in Kano state have been confirmed dead.

The centre also said rapid response teams have been deployed to support five out of the 11 affected states.

“The NCDC continues to support states in strengthening their preparedness and response capacity. Over the last three weeks, NCDC has deployed Rapid Response Teams to support five of the affected states. The Honourable Minister of Health, Dr.Osagie Ehanire led a high-level delegation to Kano State on the 25th of January 2020, following the deaths of two health workers infected with Lassa fever. In addition, NCDC has rapidly increased risk communications and community engagement activities to ensure that Nigerians are aware of the risks of Lassa fever and measures to protect themselves,” the statement read.

“There has been a decline in the case fatality rate of reported Lassa fever cases from 23.4% in 2019 to 14.8% this year. NCDC continues to support treatment centres across states in the country to effectively manage Lassa fever cases.

“Nigeria is contributing to research and other activities for the development of a Lassa fever vaccine. NCDC and the three main treatment centres in the country- Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, federal medical centre Owo and Alex Ekwueme federal teaching hospital Abakalilki- are set to commence Lassa fever epidemiological studies that will provide data to guide research and response activities.

“The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control remains committed to protecting the health of Nigerians. It is important for members of the public to practice good hygiene and take measures to protect themselves and their families.”

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