By Iyemah David
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has said that Edo, Ondo, and Bauchi states account for 84 per cent of Lassa fever infection in the country.
The Director-General of the NCDC, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, said this in an Interview on Sunday in Abuja
He said that between January 2 and January 15, the country recorded 369 suspected cases of Lassa fever.
Dr Adetifa said out of which 105 were confirmed positive from 30 LGAs in 10 states.
The NCDC said that the 10 states were Ondo, Edo, Ebonyi, Bauchi, Benue, Kogi, Imo, Oyo, Plateau and Nasarawa States
He said that there had been seven deaths with a Case Fatality Rate (CFR) of 6.7 per cent in the country.
He said that since 2017, the NCDC through the Lassa Fever Technical Working Group (TWG) had been been offering support to all states and responding to Lassa fever especially the high-burden states of Edo, Ebonyi and Ondo.
“Support offered includes capacity building and training healthcare workers on infection prevention and control, clinician training on Lassa fever case management (including the provision of Ribavirin, consumables such as intravenous fluids, antibiotics, personal protective equipment (PPE), body bags, etc.).
“The development and dissemination of protocols and guidelines, the set up and maintenance of a network of laboratories for Lassa fever diagnosis (including training, maintaining quality management systems, provision of all consumables required for testing).
“As well as risk communication and community engagement activities to raise awareness,” Adetifa said.
According to him, at the end of November 2022 and ahead of the projected rise of Lassa fever cases, the NCDC prepositioned supplies for case management, infection prevention and control and laboratory diagnosis, among others in all historical Lassa fever hotspots including Edo.
He said that in December 2022, the agency in collaboration with partners, Federal and state-level stakeholders successfully conducted the finalisation and validation of a five-year strategic plan to reduce the Lassa fever fatality ratio in Nigeria to less than 10 per cent.
The NCDC boss said that in the last six years of the Lassa fever response in the country, there had been an establishment of Public Health Emergency Operations Centres (PHEOC) to ensure effective multi-sectoral coordination for early containment of outbreaks.
He added that there has been training and retraining of healthcare workers on Lassa fever response, case management and IPC as well as development and dissemination of Lassa fever guidelines on case management, Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), preparedness and response.
Adetifa, therefore, advised Nigerians to reduce the risk of Lassa fever infection and keep their environment clean always.
He said that Nigerians should avoid drying foodstuff outside on the ground or roadside where it would be at risk for contamination and also avoid bush burning which could lead to the displacement of rats from bushes to human dwellings.
He also advised Nigerians to visit the nearest health facility if they notice any of the signs and symptoms associated with Lassa fever as mentioned earlier.
He said this was essential because early identification and treatment of cases appear to be more effective and save lives.
According to Adetifa, any febrile illness that has not responded to 48 hours of use of anti-malaria or antibiotics should raise an index of suspicion for Lassa fever.
He said that the Federal Government and the Federal Ministry of Health through the NCDC continue to offer both technical and material support to all states when responding to infectious diseases of public health importance including Lassa fever.
Adetifa said that the agency is the country’s national public health institute, with the mandate to lead the prevention, preparedness, and response to public health emergencies caused by communicable diseases.