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NCDC activates emergency response centre over rise in Lassa fever cases

NCDC activates emergency response centre over rise in Lassa fever cases
January 18
18:18 2024

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has activated the national multisectoral emergency operations centre for Lassa fever (LF-EOC).

In a statement on Thursday, the agency said the activation which was done through the national Lassa fever technical working group (LF-TWG), was in response to the rapidly increasing cases of the disease in the country.

The centre said a risk assessment was also conducted by experts from relevant ministries, departments, and agencies.

According to the NCDC, the assessment showed that the country is at “high risk” of increased Lassa fever transmission due to an increased number of states reporting cases, high case fatality, low index of suspicion among healthcare workers, healthcare worker infections and deaths and continued attrition of essential healthcare.

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“In 2023, a rise in the number of cases was reported from week 49 and associated healthcare workers’ infection over a period of three weeks,” the statement reads.

“This upsurge indicated an early peak into the high transmission season nationally, although, this is usually seen from January to May annually.

“Cumulatively, 9,155 suspected cases, 1,270 confirmed cases and 227 deaths; Case Fatality Rate (CFR) of 17.9% were reported for 2023 (across 28 states and 124 LGAs). The zones of impact of Lassa fever have been increasing across the country with risk of international exposures.”

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The agency said comparing the situation report of January 7, 2023, to January 7, 2024, the total confirmed cases rose from 29 to 53.

“Affected states so far include Ondo (13), Edo (13), Bauchi (11), Benue (6), Taraba (6), and 1 each from Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, and Plateau States,” NCDC added.

“Although we have more confirmed than week 1 of 2023, the current CFR of 11.6% is lower than that for the same reporting week of 2023 (CFR of 27.6%).

“The LF-EOC activation will coordinate a national response particularly across affected states to help minimise suffering, reduce mortality, interrupt disease transmission, and address socioeconomic complications caused by Lassa fever using a one health approach.

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“This national response requires all of the government and all of the people’s participation along with the support of partners and other stakeholders.

“While the NCDC has the mandate to lead the prevention, preparedness, and response to public health emergencies, this is done in collaboration and with the support of States who also have to develop and implement evidence-driven outbreak response plans for their territories.

“Members of the public have a collective responsibility to maintain personal and environmental hygiene as well as food hygiene in the fight against Lassa fever.

“We urgently urge the public and healthcare workers to remain vigilant. Early detection and immediate presentation at health facilities significantly increase survival chances.”

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