NIGERIA – As Nigeria battles the scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic, at least two people died from Lassa fever in the first week of 2022, according to the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

The most recent situation report shows that Lassa fever infections increased from 28 cases in the final week of 2021 to 48 cases in week one of 2022, spanning January 3 to 9.

According to the disease center, the confirmed cases were spread across 20 Local Government Areas in ten states of the federation.

According to the report, the three states of Bauchi, Edo, and Ondo accounted for 79% of the confirmed cases.

There were two fatalities, bringing the case fatality rate to 4.2 percent. During the first week, Bauchi (14), Edo (13), and Ondo (11) states accounted for nearly 80% of all confirmed cases.

In total, Nigeria reported 510 confirmed Lassa fever cases and 102 fatalities in 2021.

A confirmed case is a suspected case that has been confirmed by laboratory testing (positive IgM antibody, PCR, or virus isolation).

The Lassa virus causes Lassa fever, which is an acute viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF). The Mastomys natalensis rodent is the virus’s natural reservoir (commonly known as the multimammate rat).

According to the disease center, the confirmed cases were spread across 20 Local Government Areas in ten states of the federation.

According to the report, Benue and Taraba States, which were responsible for the fatalities – with a single case each – also reported three and two infections, respectively.

A more detailed examination of the cases revealed that five states, Kaduna, Plateau, Kogi, Cross River, and Ebonyi, each reported a single case.

While the NCDC reported that there are currently 222 suspected cases, it also stated that the number of suspected cases in week one of 2022 has increased when compared to the same period in 2021.

According to the disease center, one new healthcare worker from Benue State has contracted the disease. However, this newspaper’s investigation revealed that the unnamed health worker died from Lassa fever during the reporting week.

Lassa fever

Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic (excessive bleeding) illness spread to humans via contact with contaminated food, household items contaminated by infected rodents, or contaminated people.

Lassa fever is still a major public health problem in West Africa, with Nigeria bearing the brunt of the burden.

Lassa fever occurs all year, but more cases are reported during the dry season, which runs from November to May.

The presenting symptoms include fever, headache, sore throat, general body weakness, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pains, chest pain, and, in severe cases, unexplainable bleeding from ears, eyes, nose, mouth, and other body openings.

It is one of many diseases that have continued to be overlooked as a result of the disruptions in many health programs and campaigns caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

While announcing the cases of Circulating Mutant Poliovirus Type 2 (cMPV2) in the country, Faisal Shuaib, executive director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), blamed the development on the concentration of COVID-19.

The suspension of several polio campaigns and other health programmes in 2020, as well as disruptions to routine immunization because of the COVID-19 pandemic, created further immunity gaps which led to new and wider outbreaks, and further increased transmission of the circulating mutant poliovirus both globally and within Nigeria,” Mr Shuaib said.

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