The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control on Thursday said there has been a significant increase in the number of Lassa fever deaths and cases across the country.
The centre, through its latest situation report on the disease, stated that as of May 2022, no fewer than 155 deaths with 4,820 suspected cases had been reported across 97 local government areas in 24 states of the federation.
Lassa fever, an animal-borne, or zoonotic, acute viral illness spread by the common African rat also known as the mastomys rat species, is endemic in Nigeria and some other West African countries.
The Lassa fever situation report, which the centre made available to The PUNCH on Thursday, read in part, “The number of suspected cases has increased compared to that reported for the same period in 2021.
“Cumulatively, from Week 1 to Week 20 in 2022, 155 deaths have been reported with a case fatality rate of 20 per cent. 24 states have recorded at least one confirmed case across 97 local government areas. “Of all the confirmed cases, 68 per cent are from Ondo, Edo and Bauchi states. The predominant age group affected is between 21 and 30 years old (range 1 to 90 years, median age: 30 years). The number of suspected cases has increased compared to that reported for the same period in 2021.”
An infectious disease physician at the Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta, Ogun State, and member of the Nigerian Infectious Diseases Society, Dr Ayanfe Omololu, in an interview with The PUNCH said, “It is important to maintain a clean environment at all times, properly dispose waste, rat-proof our homes, keep our foodstuffs in covered containers and find a way to eliminate rats from one’s homes; possibly keep cats. “One should avoid bush meat for now and, if possible, reduce bush burning. These should reduce your likelihood of being infected with the disease.”
On efforts being made to curb the spread, the NCDC said it had begun the “implementation of Lassa Fever Environmental Response Campaign in high burden states by the Federal Ministry of Environment and the distribution of medical response commodities to states and treatment centres.”