Nigeria records decline in Lassa fever cases- NCDC

Gloria Essien

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, says over the last five weeks, there has been a decline in the number of Lassa fever cases in Nigeria.
The Director General of the centre, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, made this known while briefing newsmen in Abuja.
He said Nigeria has witnessed a reduction in the number of people who have died from the disease, compared to 2018.
He also revealed that the NCDC and partners would continue to sustain response activities in states across the country, despite progress made so far.
“The progress recorded in the response to the 2019 Lassa fever outbreak including an early decline in the number of new cases.
This includes the early deployment of One-Health national RRTs, improvement of functions in Lassa fever treatment centres,” he said.
Dr. Chikwe also noted that it is very important that Nigerians continue to practice preventive measures to avoid infection.
He added that  prevention of Lassa fever relies on promoting good community hygiene to discourage rodents from entering homes.
He said “Other effective measures include storing grains and other foodstuff in rodent-proof containers, proper disposal of garbage far from the home, maintaining clean households and frequent hand hygiene. All food should be well prepared, and family members should always be careful to avoid contact with blood and body fluids while caring for sick persons”. 
The DG however urges healthcare workers to maintain a high index of suspicion for Lassa fever when handling patients, irrespective of their health status.
” Lassa fever should be considered in patients with fever, headache, sore throat and malaise, in whom Malaria has been ruled out with a rapid diagnostic test (RDT), especially when patients are not getting better.
Health workers should adhere to standard precautions including wearing protective apparels when handling suspected Lassa fever patients,” he said.
An outbreak of Lassa fever was declared in Nigeria on the 21st of January 2019 and since then, 420 confirmed cases and 93 deaths have been reported in 21 States.
The national response is being coordinated by the national, multi-sectoral, multi-partner Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) led by NCDC.
The revised Lassa fever case management guidelines are available on the NCDC website,
Lassa fever is a viral infection caused by the Lassa fever virus, primarily transmitted to humans through direct contact, eating food or drinking water contaminated with urine, faeces, saliva or blood of infected rats. Person-to-person transmission is through contact with blood, urine, saliva, throat secretion or semen of an infected person. The disease can be treated, with early presentation to a healthcare facility greatly increasing the chances of survival. Early signs of the disease include sudden fever, sore throat and general body weakness.