The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, has called on Nigerians to remain calm over the outbreak of Lassa fever across some states and some part of the world, saying that the Centre has activated a National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) couple of days ago to coordinate response activities.
A statement from the Director General of
NCDC, Chikwe Ihekweazu, revealed that, as at 24th of January 2020, 195 confirmed cases and 29 deaths had been reported in 11 states. Of the confirmed cases, 89% are from Ondo, Edo and Ebonyi States. The increase in the number of cases at this time of the year is not unusual due to ecological factors.
The National EOC includes; representatives from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Federal Ministry of Environment, World Health Organization, UNICEF, US Centers for Disease Control, and other partners.
The DG pledges its continuous support to states in strengthening their preparedness and response capacity. The statement reads “over the last three weeks, NCDC has deployed Rapid Response Teams to support five of the affected states. The Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire led a high-level delegation to Kano State on the 25th of January 2020, following the deaths of two health workers infected with Lassa fever.
“In addition, NCDC has rapidly increased risk communications and community engagement activities to ensure that Nigerians are aware of the risks of Lassa fever and measures to protect themselves.
“There has been a decline in the case fatality rate of reported Lassa fever cases from 23.4% in 2019 to 14.8% this year. NCDC continues to support treatment centres across states in the country to effectively manage Lassa fever cases.
“In addition, five laboratories in Nigeria have the capacity to diagnose Lassa fever in Nigeria. These laboratories are critical to reducing turnaround time between identifying a suspected case and confirmation. This ensures prompt case management and other response activities, thereby reducing the number of deaths.”
Ihekweazu added that Nigeria is contributing to research and other activities for the development of a Lassa fever vaccine. NCDC and the three main treatment centres in the country- Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Federal Medical Centre Owo and Alex Ekwueme Federal Teaching Hospital Abakalilki- are set to commence Lassa fever epidemiological studies that will provide data to guide research and response activities.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control remains committed to protecting the health of Nigerians. It is important for members of the public to practice good hygiene and take measures to protect themselves and their families.