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Lassa fever: Only eight laboratories available for testing, death toll hits 132

Official data from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has revealed that Nigeria has only eight molecular laboratories for the testing of Lassa fever samples.

Saturday PUNCH reports that the Lassa fever disease has continued to spread across the country in the past weeks.

So far in 2022, the NCDC says a total of 132 persons have lost their lives.

Lassa fever, also known as Lassa hemorrhage, is a type of viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus and contracted through close contact with an infected animal, specially the Mastomys rat species.

According to the World Health Organization, humans usually become infected with Lassa fever through exposure to food or household items contaminated with urine or feaces of infected Mastomy rat.

According to the latest report by the NCDC, 3,746 suspected cases have been reported so far while 691 of such cases have been confirmed.

“Cumulatively from week 1 to week 13, 2022, 132 deaths have been reported with a case fatality rate of 19.1% which is lower than the CFR for the same period in 2021. In total for 2022, 23 States have recorded at least one confirmed case across 93 Local Government Areas.

“Of all confirmed cases, 67% are from Ondo (28%), Edo (24%) and Bauchi (15%). The predominant age-group affected is 21-30 years (Range: 1 to 80 years, Median Age: 30 years. The male to female ratio for confirmed cases is 1:0.8. The number of suspected cases has increased compared to that reported for the same period in 2021.

In response, the centre stated that, “Lassa fever alert letters sent to States, the National Emergency Operations Centre response mode Level 2 activated for effective multi-sectoral, multi-disciplinary coordination of 2022 Lassa fever outbreak response.

“Lassa fever preparedness assessment carried out for 36 States and FCT; State Public Health Emergency Operations Centre activated in affected States; The Eight Lassa fever molecular laboratories in the NCDC network are working full capacity to ensure that all samples are tested, and results provided within the shortest turnaround time.

 “Confirmed cases are treated at identified treatment centres across the states, dissemination of reviewed case management and safe burial practices guidelines, dissemination of reviewed IPC guideline and health facility IPC advisory.

“Risk communications and community engagement activities have been scaled up across states using television, radio, print, social media, and other strategies.

“Implementation of Lassa fever Environmental response campaign in high burden states by the Federal Ministry of Environment.”

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