NIGERIA – The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has activated the national multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary Lassa fever Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) in response to the upsurge in cases of Lassa fever reported in some parts of the nation.

Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic illness transmitted to humans through contact with food or household items contaminated by rodents infected with the Lassa fever virus.

Person-to-person transmission can also occur, particularly in a hospital environment with inadequate infection control measures.

The activation of the EOC became necessary given the increase in the number of confirmed Lassa fever cases across the country.

In 2016, NCDC had also activated the operations center following a rise in cases. Ever since, the agency has been working hard to improve diagnostic capacity for the disease.

According to NCDC, As of 23rd January 2022, a total of 115 confirmed cases with 26 deaths have been reported from thirty Local Government Areas (LGAs) across eleven states.

Moreover, the reports in weeks 1 and 2 show the highest number of confirmed cases recorded in the last four years for the same period.

Response efforts

NCDC in a statement signed by its director-general, Ifedayo Adetifa, revealed that currently seven laboratories could conduct confirmatory tests for Lassa fever in Nigeria and are coordinated by the NCDC National Reference Laboratory (NRL).

Adding that the tests have improved active case detection for the disease.

“Similarly, care for affected individuals has improved with NCDC providing support to states including the provision of emergency medical and laboratory supplies as well as oral and intravenous Ribavirin for preventive and curative treatment to treatment centers across the country,” the statement said.

The statement further added that Nigeria, through NCDC collaborating with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the Wellcome Trust, is participating in the largest-ever Lassa fever study.

The study aims to provide an accurate assessment of the incidence of the disease and accelerate the development of vaccines and therapeutics for the outbreak.

The Federal Ministry of Environment is also implementing a Lassa fever Environmental response campaign in high burden states.

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