Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has confirmed that no fewer than 171 persons died of Lassa fever between the period of January 1 and December 31, 2018.
It said that 3, 498 suspected cases were reported across Nigeria in 2018, out of which 633 were confirmed positive, 20 probable and 2, 853 negative cases.
Its epidemiology report indicated that Edo State contributed 80 per cent of all confirmed cases (44 per cent). Ondo and Ebonyi states contributed 25 and 11 per cent respectively.
About 45 health care workers were also affected since the outbreak of the epidemic in seven states namely: Ebonyi (16), Edo (15), Ondo (8), Kogi (2), Nasarawa (1), Taraba (1) and Abia (1).
Also, 10 health workers were said to have died in the course of the service. Five died in Ebonyi State, two in Ondo, one each in Kogi, Abia and Edo states.
It noted that surviving patients were being managed at Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH) treatment Centre, and some federal medical facilities.
The report also revealed that 9, 643 contacts were identified from 23 states, of which 421 (4.4 per cent) were followed up; 9, 089 (94.3 per cent) completed their 21 days follow up, while 15 (0.2 per cent) were lost to follow up. 118 (1.2 per cent) symptomatic contacts were identified, of which 38 (0.4 per cent) tested positive from five states, Edo (21), Ondo (8), Ebonyi (3), Kogi (3), Bauchi (1) and Adamawa (1).
NCDC had on Tuesday, declared the epidemic a national outbreak, due to the number of deaths that were recorded within the first few weeks of 2019.
It said that 16 deaths had been recorded since the 2019 outbreak, out of 172 suspected cases that were reported, while 60 cases were confirmed positive and 112 negative.
NCDC said it had activated its Emergency Operation Centres (EOC) to coordinate urgent response to the outbreak.
The EOCs include representatives from the World Health Organisation (WHO), Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Federal Ministry of Environment, US Centre for Disease Control, as well as other partners.
The Centre said it had provided support to states including the provision of emergency supplies and deployment of Rapid Response Team (RRT) that would work on coordination, contact tracing, case management, risk communication and strengthening infection- prevention and control practices.