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Lassa Fever Outbreak: Over 100 Cases and 20 Deaths Recorded in Nigeria Across 16 States

Lassa Fever Outbreak: Over 100 Cases and 20 Deaths Recorded in Nigeria Across 16 States

Lassa fever has resulted in numerous fatalities in Nigeria, with over a hundred cases reported across 16 states. According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), between February 26 and March 3 alone, there were 20 deaths and 109 cases reported in these states. Lassa fever, described as an acute viral hemorrhagic illness, is transmitted through contact with contaminated rodents or individuals. Symptoms include fever, headache, sore throat, weakness, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pains, chest pain, and severe cases may involve unexplained bleeding from various body parts.

Despite efforts to contain the disease, new cases and fatalities persist. The NCDC reports that individuals aged 31 to 40 are predominantly affected, with a male-to-female ratio of 1:0.9 for confirmed cases. The National Lassa Fever multi-partner, multi-sectoral incident management system has been activated to coordinate response efforts across all levels.

The affected states include Ondo, Bauchi, Edo, Benue, Ebonyi, Kogi, Kaduna, Taraba, Enugu, Delta, Jigawa, Adamawa, Anambra, Rivers, Ogun, and Oyo. Ondo, Edo, and Bauchi states account for 62% of confirmed cases, while the remaining states make up the remaining 38%.

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The situation is dire, with an increase in confirmed cases compared to previous years. The fatality rate stands at 18.8%, higher than in 2023. In Taraba State alone, the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) reported 19 deaths from Lassa fever between January and February.

Benue State also faces a significant outbreak, with 46 cases and nine deaths reported across seven local government areas. Ebonyi State has seen 29 confirmed cases, with 14 fatalities recorded. In Abakaliki alone, 21 cases and 12 deaths have been reported.

Kaduna State has confirmed five deaths from Lassa fever. Dr. Chikodi Onyemkpa, a medical expert, emphasizes prevention as the key solution, urging public education on rat control and proper food storage to mitigate the spread of the disease.

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