Nigerian Academy of Sciences: Lassa fever is a public health emergency

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Lassa fever is transmitted to humans from contacts with food or household items contaminated with rodent faeces or urine [File: Simon Akam/Reuters]

Lassa fever is transmitted to humans from contacts with food or household items contaminated with rodent faeces or urine [File: Simon Akam/Reuters]
The Nigerian government on Sunday confirmed nine more cases of Lassa fever in the country after it killed four people in the central state of Kogi.

State epidemiologist Austin Ojotule told reporters in Lokoja, capital of the state, that the fresh cases of Lassa fever, a disease carried by rodents, broke out in the state about a month ago.

Ojotule said the state’s statistics showed that there were a total of 31 suspected cases and 177 contacts in the state as of Saturday.

The death toll from the latest round of Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria has risen to 47 so far, with 365 confirmed cases as the acute viral hemorrhagic fever continued to spread in the most populous African country, according to the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) on Thursday.

According to the National Academy of Sciences, there has been a surge of recorded infections between 1969 and 2007.

The first cases of Lassa Fever were limited to just two states – Borno and Plateau.

However, from 2008 to 2012, the disease spread to eight other states and from 2013 until 2019. At least 23 states have now been affected by the Lassa fever outbreak, with most cases recorded in the southern states of Ebonyi, Edo, and Ondo.

The group also stated that 67 percent of all Lassa fever cases, roughly 11,200, were recorded between 2016 and January 29, 2020 and that 60 percent of all 1,047 Lassa fever deaths also occurred in that same four-year span.

The NAS says Lassa fever is now a public health emergency in Nigeria and has urged the government to make an official declaration.

Lassa fever is reportedly transmitted when saliva, urine and excretions from rats come into contact with humans. In some cases, Lassa fever has similar symptoms as malaria.

The latest outbreak is said to be the worst in Nigeria in the past years. It erupted in November and the first case was reported in the northeastern state of Bauchi.

 

 

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