The Lassa fever epidemic continues to spread across Nigeria, despite frantic efforts by the health institutions, government and non-governmental organizations to curtail this disease. As at the last update on January 27, 2020, a total of 195 cases were confirmed and 29 deaths had been reported across 11 states in Nigeria. However, this number has now increased to 258 confirmed cases and 41 deaths recorded across 19 states in Nigeria. In additional information, 689 people have been suspected to have Lassa fever.
About 87% of the confirmed cases are from Edo (38%), Ondo (38%), and Ebonyi (11%) states only. According to the Commissioner for Health, Ondo State, Dr. Wahab Adegbenro, the rise in cases recorded in Ondo state is as a result of the influx of Lassa fever patients into the state, which has a treatment centre where the patients are treated free of charge. In Northern Nigeria, a fresh outbreak of the epidemic has been reported in Borno and Adamawa and states. In Borno, nine (9) cases have been reported, with two (2) deaths confirmed and one result pending. In Adamawa state six (6) cases were recorded, with one (1) death.
Rapid response teams comprising of personnel from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and the Ministry of Health of the respective states have been mobilized to ensure effective management of confirmed or suspected cases, the safe burial of deceased, promote sensitization activities, as well as ensure environmental sanitary and biosecurity measures. In a related development, medical doctors in the country have urged the Federal Government to declare the Lassa Fever virus as a national health emergency. This comes on the backdrop of the death of 2 medical doctors in Kano, due to occupational exposure while on duty attending to a patient infected by the Lassa fever virus. Speaking under the aegis of National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), the body decried the consistent rise in the number of cases of the disease, describing current measures out in place for control and prevention as “weak”.
We enjoin everyone to keep safe at all times. Please read the following infographic for more information on how to protest your family and your friends from the Lassa Fever virus.
Written by Dr. Samuel Akpan