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Lassa Fever: NCDC Reports1,068 Cases, 181 Deaths

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has officially documented 1,068 cases of Lassa fever occurring across 112 Local Government Areas in 28 different states. This data was disclosed in the NCDC's Lassa Fever situation report for week 37, spanning from September 11 to 17, 2023, which was released on Monday.

Lassa fever is a severe viral hemorrhagic disease caused by the Lassa virus, a member of the arenavirus family. Human infections typically result from contact with food or household items contaminated by the urine or feces of infected Mastomys rats. This disease is endemic in parts of West Africa.

Lassa fever continues to pose a significant public health challenge in Nigeria, driven by factors such as inadequate environmental sanitation, low awareness, and delayed case reporting.

The NCDC reports a total of 7,352 suspected cases at present, with the disease having claimed the lives of at least 181 individuals in the country. The current outbreak has a case-fatality ratio of 16.9 percent.

The report states, "Cumulatively from week 1 to week 37, 2023, 181 deaths have been reported with a case fatality rate of 16.9 percent, which is lower than the CFR for the same period in 2022 (19.1 percent)."

In 2023, a total of 28 states have reported at least one confirmed case, affecting 112 Local Government Areas. Notably, 75 percent of all confirmed Lassa fever cases originate from three states: Ondo, Edo, and Bauchi. Ondo reported 35 percent of cases, Edo 29 percent, and Bauchi 11 percent.

The age group most affected by Lassa fever is 21-30 years old, with cases spanning from 1 to 93 years, and a median age of 32 years. The male-to-female ratio for confirmed cases is approximately 1:0.9. Additionally, there has been an increase in the number of suspected cases compared to the same period in 2022.

In 2023, 49 healthcare workers in Nigeria have contracted the disease. To coordinate response efforts at all levels, the National Lassa Fever multi-partner, multi-sectoral Emergency Operations Centre has been activated, as noted by the NCDC.

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