The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 117 more cases of Lassa fever, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 361.
The NCDC, in its Lassa fever situation report for week four obtained by our correspondent on Friday, revealed that the disease killed 16 persons in one week as the death toll rose to 53 between January 1 and 29, 2023.
According to the report, there were 1,378 suspected cases in the country as of January 29, 2023.
Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness caused by the Lassa virus, a member of the arenavirus family of viruses. It is endemic in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and Nigeria, with neighbouring countries at risk.
According to the NCDC, the late presentation of cases is leading to an increase in the fatality rate.
It said there was poor health-seeking behaviour due to the high cost of treatment, clinical management of the disease and poor environmental sanitation conditions observed in high-burden communities.
The NCDC report read in part, “In week 4, the number of new confirmed cases decreased from 137 in week three of 2023 to 117 cases. These were reported from Ondo, Edo, Taraba, Bauchi, Ebonyi, Benue, Plateau, Nasarawa, Kano, Gombe, FCT, Delta, Enugu, and Kogi States.
“Cumulatively, from week one to week four, 2023, 53 deaths have been reported with a case fatality rate of 14.7 per cent which is lower than the CFR for the same period in 2022 (19 per cent).
“In total for 2023, 18 states have recorded at least one confirmed case across 67 Local Government Areas.”
It noted that 74 per cent of confirmed cases were reported from Ondo, Edo, and Taraba states, while 26 per cent were reported from 11 states. It pointed out that out of the 74 per cent confirmed cases, Ondo reported 36 per cent, Edo, 31 per cent and Taraba, seven per cent.
It gave the predominant age group affected as 21 to 30 years, adding, “The number of suspected cases increased compared to that reported for the same period in 2022. One new healthcare worker was affected in the reporting week four.”