Fear as lassa fever spreads sorrow across 16 states

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) reported that, within the week of February 26 to March 3, there were 20 deaths and 109 new cases of Lassa fever across 16 states

Lassa fever has claimed numerous lives in Nigeria, with over a hundred cases identified across 16 states, according to the latest reports.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) reported that, within the week of February 26 to March 3, there were 20 deaths and 109 new cases of Lassa fever across 16 states.

The recent surge in Lassa fever cases across Nigeria has sent shockwaves through communities already grappling with the myriad challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and other health crises. With cases reported in 16 states, spanning various regions of the country, the impact of the outbreak is widespread and deeply concerning.

The toll of human suffering inflicted by Lassa fever is not only measured in numbers but also in the profound grief and anguish experienced by affected families and communities. Each loss represents a shattered dream, a beloved member of the community lost to a relentless and unforgiving disease.

The nation continues to report new infections and fatalities in spite of ongoing efforts. According to the NCDC, the age range most affected is 31 to 40 years old, and the confirmed case rate of males to females is roughly 1:0.9.

The National Lassa Fever multi-partner, multi-sectoral incident management system has been turned on and is running at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in order to plan an extensive response.

The states currently impacted include Ondo, Bauchi, Edo, Benue, Ebonyi, Kogi, Kaduna, Taraba, Enugu, Delta, Jigawa, Adamawa, Anambra, Rivers, Ogun, and Oyo. The NCDC’s data reveals that 62 percent of all confirmed cases originate from Ondo, Edo, and Bauchi, with the remaining 38 percent spread across the other mentioned states.

An increase in confirmed cases was observed in the ninth week of 2024, rising from 96 cases in the eighth week, as detailed on the NCDC’s official website.

“Cumulatively, the report shows that from weeks one to nine, Nigeria recorded 682 confirmed cases and 128 deaths with a case fatality rate, CFR, of 18.8 percent, which is higher than the CFR for the same period in 2023, at 16.1 percent,” said NCDC.

On March 6, the Federal Medical Centre, FMC, Jalingo, Taraba State, said no fewer than 19 persons were confirmed killed by lassa fever between January and February this year.

The state Commissioner for Health, Gbangsheya Buma, who confirmed the outbreak of the disease to journalists, said the state Ministry of Health was closely monitoring the situation, and working in collaboration with the NCDC and FMC Jalingo authorities to contain the spread of the disease.

“It is not a surprising thing; this is the season and we have made preparations. Though the outbreak may be overwhelming, I just received support from the NCDC. They have sent some people here to provide technical support with the aim of stopping the progress of the disease.

“We are actually on top of it. We have provided support as a state to the FMC to provide free treatment to patients of Lassa fever.

“Eight of the nine blood samples from suspected cases collected from the FMC Jalingo as of last Friday have been confirmed for Lassa fever,” Buma said.

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