NIGERIA – The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has announced an outbreak of acute viral hemorrhagic-Lassa fever cases in several parts of the country.

The number of new confirmed cases increased from 30 in week one to 77 cases in week two of 2023.

Nigeria has recorded 105 confirmed Lassa fever infections and seven deaths as of the second week of 2023.

According to the NCDC, the trio of Ondo, Edo and Bauchi States accounted for 84 per cent of all confirmed cases.

Edo State reported 39 per cent, while Ondo and Bauchi States accounted for 37 per cent and eight per cent respectively.

The report showed that the confirmed cases in week two, spanning 9 to 15 January, were reported from Ondo, Edo, Ebonyi, Bauchi, Benue, Kogi, Imo, Oyo and Nasarawa States.

Cumulatively, NCDC noted that from week one to week two, seven deaths were recorded with a case fatality rate (CFR) of 7.8 per cent which is lower than the CFR for the same period in 2022 (11.5 per cent)

NCDC also noted that no new healthcare worker was affected in the reporting week, adding that the number of suspected cases has decreased compared to that reported for the same period in 2022.

Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic (excessive bleeding) illness that is transmitted to humans through contact with food or household items contaminated by infected rodents or contaminated persons.

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

Humans usually contract the Lassa virus through exposure to food or household items contaminated by urine or faeces of infected Mastomys rats.

The disease is endemic in the rodent population in parts of West Africa. In some cases, Lassa fever has similar symptoms to malaria, appearing between one and three weeks after exposure to the virus. In mild cases, the disease causes fever, fatigue, weakness, and headache.

So far, the acute viral hemorrhagic illness cases have been found in 30 Nigerian local areas across 10 states, Ifedayo Adetifa, head of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, said.

The death toll of Lassa fever in Nigeria reached over 170 from nearly 1,000 cases last year till November, amid intensified measures by the government to reduce infections.

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