Lassa fever kills 168 in Nigeria since January 2022.

ONDO and Edo states are leading in the number of confirmed cases of Lassa fever as Nigeria records 168 deaths from the disease since January 2022.

New data released on the disease by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) this week, covering the 15th to 21st of August, showed there were 88 suspected and five confirmed cases.

There was no death from the disease during the week. Two Local Government Areas (LGAs) in two states recorded the cases. The data showed a reduction in confirmed cases from nine in the previous week to five in the new week. The cases were reported from Ondo and Edo States.

Cumulatively, from January 1 to the previous week, 168 deaths have been reported with a case fatality rate (CFR) of 18.8 per cent. The CFR for the same period in 2021 was 23 per cent. This year, 26 states have recorded at least one confirmed case across 101 local government areas. Of all confirmed cases, 70 per cent are from three states, namely Ondo (31 per cent), Edo (26 per cent) and Bauchi (13 per cent).

The predominant age group affected is 21 to 30 years. The number of suspected cases has increased compared to what was reported for the same period in 2021. There are now 6,392 suspected and 894 confirmed cases of Lassa fever in the country this year, out of which 168 persons have died.

The Centre said 101 LGAs have logged cases from 25 states. Compared to the same period in 2021, there are more suspected cases and deaths this year.

Similarly, more states and local government areas have recorded Lassa fever cases this year than in the previous year. While there are 6,392 suspected and 894 confirmed cases this year, figures for the same period last year were 2,790 and 83, respectively.

Cases were confirmed in 80 LGAs within 14 states in the previous year, but this year’s tally has 101 LGAs reporting cases in 25 states.

According to the United States Centre for Disease Control, Lassa fever is an animal-borne, or zoonotic, acute viral illness spread by the common African rat. It is endemic in parts of West Africa, including Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria.

The Centre notes that there are about 100,000 to 300,000 infections of Lassa fever annually worldwide, with approximately 5,000 deaths.

The World Health Organization says humans usually become infected with the Lassa virus through exposure to food or household items contaminated with urine or faeces of infected Mastomys rats.

The ICIR reports that Lassa fever is one of the diseases to which Nigeria is endemic.

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