18 die as Lassa fever spreads to nine states


The Nigeria Centre for Diseases Control (NCDC) on Wednesday said 82 cases of Lassa fever, including 14 deaths, have been confirmed from seven states.

They are Ondo, Edo, Ebonyi, Taraba, Plateau, Bauchi and Ogun.

Two other states, Kano and Delta, yesterday confirmed four deaths from the virus.

Two doctors and a patient died in Kano; a single mother died in Delta.

According to the latest figures from the NCDC in its Lassa fever Situation Report (Epi Week 02: 6th – 12th January 2020), 255 suspected cases were recorded.

According to a summary of the current weekly indicators, the number of new confirmed cases rose from 18 in Week 1, 2020 to 64 in Week 2, out of which 12 deaths were recorded from 158 suspected cases.

The cases were with a Case Fatality Ratio (CFR) of 18.8 per cent in 12 Local Government Areas of Ondo, Edo, Ebonyi, Taraba, Plateau, Bauchi and Ogun states.

The NCDC stated: “The number of deaths has increased. The overall case fatality rate (CFR) for 2020 is 17.1 per cent, which is lower than the CFR for the same period during 2019 (28.7 per cent).

“In total for 2020, eight states have recorded at least one confirmed case across 13 LGAs; 89 per cent of all confirmed cases are from Edo (38 per cent), Ondo (38 per cent) and Ebonyi (11 per cent) states.

“The predominant age-group affected is 11-40 years (Range: >11 to 60 years, Median Age: 33 years). The male to female ratio for confirmed cases is 1:1.

“The number of suspected cases has increased but is lower than the numbers reported in 2019. One Health Care Worker infection was identified in the reporting week 02.”

NCDC Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, in an interview last night on NTA, said: “Over the past few years, we have had a lot of Lassa fever cases specifically, the highest incidences have been in three states – in Ondo, Edo and Ebonyi states. I am particularly proud of the work done in Ondo.”

Kano State yesterday confirmed the outbreak of Lassa fever, which claimed the lives of two doctors and a patient.

Commissioner for Health, Dr Aminu Tsanyawa, told reporters that no fewer than 292 persons who had contact with the victims were under watch.

He said anyone who shows symptoms of the disease will be quarantined to avoid further spread.

Lassa fever, according to medicalnewstoday.com, is an acute, viral disease carried by a type of rat that is common in West Africa.

Though life-threatening and hemorrhagic (causing bleeding), eight out of every 10 people with the virus have no symptoms. If it affects the liver, kidneys, or spleen and can be fatal.

When symptoms occur, they typically include fever, weakness, headaches, vomiting, and muscle pains.

Tsanyawa said the first case was a 28-year-old pregnant woman from Gwale, who fell sick two weeks after her mother’s death.

She was referred to the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital from a private hospital but died on January 1.

The commissioner said following the outbreak, and confirmation of samples, the state activated its isolation centre at Year Gaya to halt the spread.

He said Kano also activated its rapid response team, ensured availability of drugs and other consumables, and prepared for coordinated emergency operations.

Tsanyawa urged the general public to ensure proper hand hygiene, environmental sanitation, and to avoid contact with wild animals and rodents.

He said people should avoid poorly cooked meat, avoid contact with suspected or confirmed cases or items soiled by them and to report any suspected case to the nearest health facility.

Also yesterday, a single mother died in Asaba, the Delta State capital, following an outbreak of the virus.

Commissioner for Health, Dr Morsi Ononye, confirmed the incident.

It was learnt that the case brings to two the number of persons infected by Lassa fever.

A youth corps member was diagnosed with it and was transferred to the Specialist Hospital in Irrua, Edo State.

Ononye said the single mother died at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Asaba.

He said the deceased was admitted on January 11 and died the following day, adding that the corps member was responding to treatment.

He said the state has furnished a 10-bed isolation unit at the Federal Medical Centre.

Ononye said that health authorities located at the various entry points – land, sea and airports/borders – are working with the state Disease Notification and Surveillances Officers (DNSOs) to track the disease.

He urged residents to keep high personal hygiene and keep their environments clean.

Ondo State Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu yesterday met with traditional rulers in Owo Local Government Area in a bid to check the spread of Lassa fever in the area.


He expressed the need for the traditional rulers to mobilise their subjects to desist from all causative factors in their environment.

The Olowo of Owo, Oba Ajibade Ogunoye, commended the governor for making Lassa fever treatment free.

He urged the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on the disease.

Akeredolu, in a state broadcast on Tuesday on the outbreak, promised to ensure its total elimination.

Edo State Government donated 200 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital in a bid to tackle the Lassa fever outbreak.

Commissioner for Health, Dr Patrick Okundia, restated the state’s commitment to combatting the scourge.

He advised the public to stick to hygienic practices and report all cases of febrile illness that are not responding to common treatment to the nearest standard health facility.

Ogun State government yesterday said there was no confirmed case of Lassa fever in the state.

The Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) listed Ogun as one of the affected states.

But, the Commissioner for Health, Dr Tomi Coker, said in a statement that there was no such case.

He said that the government had, however, put its health officials on red alert in the event of a suspected case.

He allayed residents’ fears, advising them to avoid contact with rodents and ensure personal and environmental hygiene.

Describing Lassa fever as an endemic acute viral haemorrhage illness that is transmitted from rodents to humans, and human to human, the commissioner advised health workers to be alert and treat all cases of fever symptoms with caution.

She added that all suspected cases of Lassa fever should be reported to the Local Government Area Disease Surveillance Notification Officer (DSNO) or call 09099140121 and 09099140122.

Earlier in January, the people of Avonkwu, Olokoro in Umuahia South Local Government Area of Abia State were thrown into panic as a Lassa fever outbreak hit the community.

Commissioner for Information John Okiyi-Kalu said the Ministry of Health was in control, adding that a rapid response team of health personnel was deployed.

He said only a single case of Lassa fever was confirmed, with full contact tracing ongoing.

He called for vigilance but warned against panic.

“Please note that ‘outbreak’ does not suggest the generalised spreading of the disease but rather medical parlance applied to even single confirmation of a highly infectious disease such as Lassa fever, Ebola etc.

“All those who were identified to have had contact with the index patient are currently being monitored and those who are eligible are on prophylactic treatment. There is, therefore, no need for panic.

“It is important to note that Lassa fever can be treated and drugs are available in medical facilities in Abia State,” he said.



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