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Lassa Fever Outbreak:  152 Dead In  832 Cases In Four Months

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has sounded the alarm over a  staggering surge in Lassa fever cases, with 832 confirmed cases and 152 deaths recorded in just four months.

 According to the latest Lassa fever situation report released by the NCDC, the outbreak has spread across 27 states, affecting 126 Local Government Areas from January to April 14, 2024.

Lassa fever, caused by the Lassa virus, a member of the arenavirus family, poses a significant public health threat in West Africa. 

The virus is primarily transmitted to humans through contact with food or household items contaminated by the urine or feces of infected Mastomys rats, which are endemic in the region. 

PLATFORM TIMES reports that while the overall case-fatality rate stands at one percent, severe cases can lead to organ failure, with a case fatality estimated at around 15 percent.

Highlighting the severity of the situation, the NCDC reports an increase in new confirmed cases, with 15 cases recorded in week 15 alone, compared to 11 cases in the previous week. 

Alarmingly, the case fatality rate of 18.3 percent for 2024 surpasses the rate recorded during the same period in 2023, signaling a worsening crisis.

Ondo, Edo, and Bauchi States emerge as the epicentres of the outbreak, collectively accounting for 65 percent of confirmed cases, with Ondo reporting the highest incidence at 25 percent, followed by Edo at 23 percent, and Bauchi at 17 percent. 

The report also sheds light on the demographic most affected by the outbreak, with individuals aged 31 to 40 years bearing the brunt of the disease.

Worryingly, the figures reveal a sharp increase in suspected cases compared to the previous year, underscoring the urgency of the situation. 

Moreover, the impact of the outbreak extends beyond the general population, with 32 healthcare workers falling victim to the virus.

In response to the escalating crisis, the NCDC has activated the National Lassa Fever multi-partner, multi-sectoral Incident Management System to coordinate a comprehensive response at all levels.

 However, concerted efforts are needed to contain the spread of the virus, enhance surveillance, and provide timely diagnosis and treatment to mitigate the impact of the outbreak on public health.

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