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Lassa fever cases rise to 244, death toll hits 37

The number of confirmed Lassa fever cases in Nigeria has risen to 244 in 2023.

The death toll recorded from the infection is now 37, according to the Lassa fever situation report for week three obtained from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

The cases were confirmed from 16 states and 50 Local Government Areas with a Case Fatality Ratio of 15.1 per cent.

Also, the number of suspected cases of the infection is now 939, which is higher than the suspected cases for the same period in 2022.

Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness caused by Lassa virus, a member of the arenavirus family of viruses.

Lassa fever is known to be endemic in Benin, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Togo, and Nigeria, but probably exists in other West African countries as well.

The NCDC report read in part, “In week three, the number of new confirmed cases increased from 77 in week two, 2023 to 137 cases.

“These were reported from Ondo, Edo, Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa, Bauchi, Ebonyi, Plateau, Kogi, Anambra, Delta, FCT, Adamawa, and Enugu States.

“Cumulatively from week one to week three, 2023, 37 deaths have been reported with a CFR of 15.1 per cent which is lower than the CFR for the same period in 2022 (18.8 per cent).

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“In total for 2023, 16 States have recorded at least one confirmed case across 50 Local Government Areas.

“Seventy-nine of all confirmed Lassa fever cases were reported from these three states (Ondo, Edo, and Bauchi) while 21 per cent were reported from 13 states with confirmed Lassa fever cases.

“Of the 79 per cent of confirmed cases, Ondo reported -37 per cent, Edo -36 per cent, and Bauchi -five per cent.

“The predominant age group affected is 21-30 years (Range: 1 to 79 years, Median Age: 30 years). The male-to-female ratio for confirmed cases is 1:0.9.

“The number of suspected cases increased compared to that reported for the same period in 2022.

“Two new healthcare workers were affected in the reporting week three.

“National Lassa fever multi-partner, multi-sectoral Technical Working Group continues to coordinate the response activities at all levels.”

The NCDC, however, said Lassa fever alert letters have been sent to the Governors’ forum, State Ministries of Health, the Nigerian Medical Association, and the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria.

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The alert letters were also sent to the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, the Nigerian Dental Association, the Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria, the Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria, the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria, The National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, among others.

It also said Multi-sectoral Public Health Emergency Operation Centres have been activated in affected states.

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