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Published On: Wed, Apr 11th, 2018

Lassa Fever: Nigeria’s death toll rises to 101

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By Tobias Lengnan Dapam

The death toll from the Lassa fever disease ravaging the country since the beginning of the year, has risen to 101, the Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC) has said.
The health agency, in its situation report as at April 8, said a total of 408 cases of the disease have been confirmed from 20 states where the disease has been active.
These states included: Abia, Anambra, Bauchi, Benue, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Federal Capital Territory, Gombe, Imo, Kogi, Lagos, Nasarawa, Ondo, Osun, Plateau, Rivers, and Taraba.
Among these states, three: Edo, Ondo and Ebonyi top the chart with the highest reported cases.
The NCDC epidemiological report for week 14 since the disease started, showed that 408 cases have been classified as confirmed and nine probable cases, including 101 deaths.
There is also a total of 4480 contacts identified through contact tracing of people who had gotten in contact with confirmed cases, from the 20 Lassa fever active states.
The agency said this year, the country is witnessing the largest outbreak ever of the disease since it was first discovered in Nigeria in 1969.
However, the epidemiological chart by NCDC for this week indicates that there has been a steady decline in the outbreak compared to when it started, though there are still pocket outbreaks across the country.
A virological expert, Oyewale Tomori, in a meeting on Lassa fever had called on the government to find a lasting solution to curbing the disease.
According to him, the country has been taking the same steps for the past 49 years without combating the disease.
He called on the federal government to take more responsibility in combating the disease as corruption is one of the factors hindering the fight against the disease.
Currently, Lassa fever case management centres are operational in four states; Anambra, Abakaliki, Edo, and Ondo States and three laboratories are operational and testing samples for Lassa fever by polymerase chain reaction (PCR).
WHO and other development partners have also continued to support the outbreak response, mainly in the domains of enhanced surveillance, contact tracing, strengthening of diagnostic capacity and risk communication.
Lassa fever is endemic in the West African countries of Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Benin, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Togo and Nigeria.

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