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FG reports massive decline in Lassa fever cases

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FG reports massive decline in Lassa fever cases

Lassa fever

Abuja, March 11, 2019 The Federal Government on Monday says there is a decline in number of new cases of Lassa fever in the country.

Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, the Chief Executive Officer, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), disclosed this at a news conference in Abuja.

Ihekeazu said that the country had witnessed a reduction in the number of people who have died from the disease compared to 2018.

He revealed that the NCDC and partners had continued to sustain response activities in states across the country, despite progress made so far.

“An outbreak of Lassa fever was declared in Nigeria on Jan. 21, 2019. 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 the NCDC.

“In addition, the centre has supported Ebonyi, Edo, Ondo, Plateau and Kebbi States in activating sub-national level EOCs for coordination,’’ the chief executive officer said.

Ihekeazu said that following the large Lassa fever outbreak in 2018, the NCDC together with partners instituted five key measures to ensure improved preparedness in 2019.

NCDC boss listed some of the measures as training of over 1,000 healthcare workers on Lassa fever management, diagnosis and surveillance, together with the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital.

He said that prepositioning of treatment and diagnostic supplies to the 21 states that recorded cases in 2018, treatment centres and laboratories.

Ihekeazu added that publication of Lassa fever messages on three major newspapers, weekly radio shows on Radio Nigeria and intensive community engagement were part of the improved preparedness.

“Other measures to improve preparedness are high-level advocacy visits to state governments, encouraging them to do more to prevent and respond to cases of Lassa fever.

“Also, we developed new case management guidelines, initiated a Lassa fever Research Consortium and hosted an International Conference on Lassa fever to share knowledge,’’ he added.

Ihekeazu stressed that the NCDC also supported full availability of drugs, personal protective equipment, laboratory reagents and other supplies required for case management and diagnosis of Lassa fever.

According to the NCDC boss, this year, there has been no single stock-out reported in any state.

“In January 2019, NCDC hosted the first Lassa fever International Conference. This brought together the largest gathering of researchers and professionals to discuss progress on Lassa fever.

“Importantly, Nigeria introduced her national Lassa fever research plan and has been recognised as one of the leading stakeholders in global Lassa fever research.

“Over the last six months, progress has been made in this area especially in discussions around Lassa fever vaccines. In the next one year, Nigeria is expected to be part of clinical trials towards the development of Lassa fever vaccines,’’ he said.

The NCDC boss noted that in 2018, genetic sequencing carried out showed that the virus circulating originated from the pool of lineages that have been in Nigeria since the first discovery.

He said that this year, early sequencing result showed similar findings.

“The preliminary results of 42 Lassa fever virus sequences indicate that rodent to human transmission, as observed in 2018, is still the dominant route of transmission.

“Therefore, there is a strong need to improve prevention measures especially around environmental sanitation.

“The progress recorded in the response to the 2019 Lassa fever outbreak including an early decline in the number of new cases and reduced case fatality have been attributed to various factors.

“This includes the early deployment of One-Health national RRTs, improvement of functions in Lassa fever treatment centres, revision of case management guidelines, enforcement of environmental sanitation in some states,

“Introduction of the Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) ring strategy, targeted intensified risk communications activities, high level advocacy visits, operational research into response activities, amongst others,’’ Ihekeazu said.

He, however, stressed the need for Nigerians to continue to practice preventive measures to avoid infection.

He noted that prevention of Lassa fever relied on promoting good community hygiene to discourage rodents from entering homes.

“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.

“Healthcare workers are urged 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.

“The revised Lassa fever case management guidelines are available on the NCDC website, www.ncdc.gov.ng,’’ the NCDC boss added.

NNN reports that 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.

However 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 at a healthcare facility greatly increasing the chances of survival.

Early signs of the disease include sudden fever, sore throat and general body weakness.

Foreign

Nigeria records 41 Lassa fever deaths

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A total of 41 deaths from Lassa fever have been recorded in Nigeria’s northeastern state of Bauchi since the onset of viral disease outbreak in the country early this year, an official said Saturday.

Rilwanu Mohammed, executive chairman of Bauchi State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, told reporters that a case of COVID-19 reported early has greater chances to get treated and recover than cases of Lassa fever in the state.

He said the state government has intensified training of staff on how to carry out effective fumigation and spraying to prevent the spread of the disease.

Lassa fever is reportedly transmitted when saliva, urine and excreta of rats come into contact with humans. In some cases, it has similar symptoms as malaria.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Lassa fever kills 39 in Nigeria’s northern state: official

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A total of 39 people had died of Lassa fever since the beginning of this year in the northeastern state of Bauchi, an official said late Wednesday.

“On the issue of Lassa fever, 39 people have lost their lives since January till date, but currently, we have only one case on admission and he is about to be discharged,” State Commissioner for Health Aliyu Maigoro disclosed this at a news conference in Bauchi city, the state capital.

“We have stayed for almost four to five weeks now without anybody being admitted for Lassa fever in the state,” he added.

According to him, the state governor has supported the campaign against Lassa fever long before the COVID-19 pandemic and that was what really helped in intensifying the effort.

“We have gone up to zero with Lassa fever in the state,” he said.

Lassa fever is reportedly transmitted when saliva, urine and excreta of rats come into contact with humans. In some cases, it has similar symptoms as malaria.

Recent epidemiological data show that Lassa fever usually occurs in the country during the dry season between January and April.

(XINHUA)

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Health

39 persons die of lassa fever in Bauchi

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The Bauchi State Government says 39 people have lost their lives to Lassa fever in the state since January.

Dr Aliyu Maigoro, Bauchi State Commissioner for Health, disclosed this at a news conference in Bauchi on Wednesday.

He revealed that due to the timely and massive intervention by the state governor, Bala Mohammad, the only person currently on admission and receiving treatment would soon be discharged.

“On the issue of Lassa fever, 39 people have lost their lives since January till date, but currently, we have only one case on admission and he is about to be discharged.

“We have stayed for almost four to five weeks now without anybody being admitted for lassa fever in the state.

“His Excellency, the Executive governor, really supported the campaign against lassa fever even before the COVID-19 pandemic and that was what really helped in intensifying the effort that we have gone up to zero with Lassa fever in the state,” he said.

The commissioner also disclosed that 342 contacts were listed and whose samples had been taken, adding that, out of the figure, a total of 49 cases were confirmed and recorded.

“Up to 18th week, 342 cases were listed and samples were taken.

“Out of that figure, up to week 18, we recorded a total number of 48 cases, and with the one currently on admission, making 49.

“When you compare the death from this year to last year, in 2019 we had a case fatality rate of 20.5 but this year, we have a case fatality of 40.4.

“This shows that there is an increase in the dead this year, compared to last year,” he said.

Edited By: Fela Fashoro/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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Health

19 people die of Lassa fever in Bauchi, says deputy governor

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The Bauchi State Government says 19 people have lost their lives to Lassa fever in the state since January.

The Deputy Governor, Alhaji Baba Tela, who is also the Chairman, Bauchi State Task Force Committee on COVID-19 and Lassa Fever, disclosed this at a news conference in Bauchi on Thursday.

Tela also revealed that no fewer than 48 people were being monitored and undergoing treatment on the deadly disease in the state.

“It is not as if we have gotten rid of Lassa fever completely in the state.

“No! We have not.

“So far as of week 14 of our campaign, the total number of deaths to Lassa fever is 19 and we don’t have any new case so far.

“We are also following up contacts of about 48 persons.

“Those 48 have been confirmed and are under medication and they are recovering very well,” Tela said.

The deputy governor further urged residents to always report any suspected case of Lassa fever in the state as early diagnosis and treatment could help patients recover.

He said that the state government would embark on a massive sensitisation of the public to the nature of the disease.

He said that in the course of sensitisation, the masses wouls be educated on what to do and what to abstain from.

“The most important thing again on the issue of Lassa fever is public awareness and that is what we are trying to do – telling the people what to do and what not to do.

“For example, we have been educating people not to touch the body of a relative who dies of the disease because one can get infected by touching the body.

“We understand the pain of losing someone dear to you but people would say the last thing they would do for them is to wash them up in Islamic way and bury them.

“But even doing that is creating more health hazard.

“That is what we have been trying to inform people that they should try as long as the death is from Lassa fever, to quickly inform the authority so that something can be done about it,” the deputy governor advised.

According to him, the state government has released N25 million as part of efforts targeted toward fighting Lassa fever in the state.

/

Edited By: Folasade Adeniran/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Health

Lassa Fever: NCDC deploys health workers to hospitals in Edo, Ondo

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The Nigeria Center For Disease Control (NCDC) says it has deployed personnel to Specialist Teaching Hospital, Irua, Edo, and the Federal Medical Center, Owo, Ondo, in spite of a decrease in Lassa fever outbreak which is in its week 14.

Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director-General of NCDC, told the Nigeria News Agency , in Abuja, that the centre deployed clinicians, lab technicians and hygienists to the hospitals to manage a national response on Lassa fever amidst the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), crisis in the country.

Ihekweazu said that the National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), for Lassa fever had also  been activated to coordinate response activities across states with confirmed cases.

He further said that the National Rapid Response Teams had been deployed from NCDC to support response activities in 10 states.

The NCDC helmsman said that the five molecular laboratories for Lassa fever testing were working at full capacity to ensure that all samples were tested and results provided within the shortest possible time.

Ihekweazu disclosed that NCDC was working to support every state in Nigeria to identify one treatment centre, while supporting existing ones with care, treatment and other essentials.

He, however, said that risk communications and community engagement activities had been scaled up across states using television, radio, print, social media and other strategies.

He added that the implementation of Lassa Fever Environmental Response Campaign in high burden states by the Federal Ministry of Environment was still ongoing.

Giving the highlights of Week 14, he said that the number of new confirmed cases decreased from 19 cases in week 13 to 12 cases in Week 14..

The NCDC DG said that these were reported from five states namely; Edo, Ondo, Ebonyi, Bauchi and Sokoto.

Ihekweazu said that the cumulatively from week 1 to week 14, 2020, 188 deaths had been reported with a case fatality rate (CFR) of 19.5 per cent which, he said was lower than 22.7 per cent CFR for the same period in 2019.

“In total, 27 states have recorded at least one confirmed case across 126 Local Government Areas in 2020.

“The male to female ratio for confirmed cases is 1:1.2,” he said.

The DG, however, said that the number of suspected cases had significantly increased compared to that reported for the same period in 2019.

He expressed delight that there was no new case of healthcare workers’ infection in the week under review. ( NAN)

Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Nyisom Fiyigon Dore
(NAN)

 

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Health

Death toll from Lassa fever outbreak hits 193

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The death toll from the Lassa fean outbreak of Lassa fever has risen to 173, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has said.

The NCDC said that this represents a

Case Fatality Rate (CFR), of 18.9 per cent.

Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director-General of NCDC, told Nigeria News Agency , on Friday in Abuja, while giving an update of on the Lassa fever outbreak that

amidst the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), outbreak in the country, the agency has continued to manage a national Lassa fever outbreak.

He said that in week 12, the number of new confirmed cases decreased from 51 cases in week 11, to 28 cases.

The NCDC DG said that these were reported case in 12 states, Edo, Ondo, Ebonyi, Bauchi, Taraba, Plateau, Kogi, Abia, Enugu, FCT, Benue and Gombe.

“This is cumulatively from week one to week 12., 173 deaths have been reported with CFR of 18.9 per cent which is lower than the CFR for the same period in 2019 with 22.9 per cent.

“In total for 2020, 27 states have recorded at least one confirmed case across 125 Local Government Areas.

“Of all confirmed cases, 72 per cent are from three states, which are Edo,with

 

33 per cent, Ondo with 32 per cent and Ebonyi with seven  per cent.

“The predominant age-group affected is 21 to 30 years, range: from one to 78 years, Median Age: 33 years. The male to female ratio for confirmed cases is 1:1.2,” he explained.

Ihekweazu said that the number of suspected cases had significantly increased compared to that reported for the same period in 2019.

”With joy that there were no healthcare workers affected in the reporting week 12,” he said.

The NCDC DG said the National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) had

 

been activated to coordinate response activities across states.

“Of the states with confirmed cases, eight of them have activated state- level EOCs

National Rapid Response Teams have been deployed from NCDC to support response activities in 10 States.

“Surge staff Doctors, Nurses, Laboratorians and Hygienist, are deployed to ISTH and FMC Owo. And also State Public Health Emergency Operations Centre activated in affected States,” he said.

According to him, the five molecular laboratories for Lassa fever testing in the NCDC network are working full capacity to ensure that all samples are tested and results provided within the shortest turnaround time

He said that NCDC was working to support every state in Nigeria to identify one treatment centre, while supporting existing ones with care, treatment and IPC commodities.

Ihekweazu said that the risk communications and community engagement activities have been scaled up across states using television, radio, print, social media and other strategies.

He, however added that there was an Implementation of Lassa fever Environmental response campaign in high burden states by Federal Ministry of Environment.

Ihekweazu stressed that Lassa fever is a disease spread to humans through food or household items contaminated with rodent urine or faeces.

“In 80 per cent of cases, the fever is asymptomatic, but for some, the symptoms include high fever, headache, mouth ulcers, muscle aches, haemorrhaging under the skin and heart and kidney failure.

“It has an incubation period of between six and 21 days and can be transmitted through contact with an infected person via bodily fluids and excretion.

He advised Nigerians on a more effective personal hygiene, storing grain and other foodstuffs in rodent-proof containers, and disposing of garbage far from their

 

homes to help sustain clean households.

AIR /SH

Edited By: Sadiya Hamza
(NAN)

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Education

Frequent strikes pushing Nigerians to study in inferior universities abroad – Prof Lassa

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Frequent strikes pushing Nigerians to study in inferior universities abroad – Prof Lassa: Prof. Peter Lassa, a Professor of Mathematics Education and the first Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), has said that frequent strikes by Nigerian university lecturers are pushing many Nigerians to study in inferior universities abroad.

Lassa, a one-time Deputy Vice Chancellor, Administration of University of Jos, said this while reacting to the ongoing strike by university lecturers in an interview with Nigeria News Agency on Monday in Jos.

According to him, many Nigerians seek admission into universities in neighbouring African countries not because of the superiority of their academic programmes, but the stability of their academic calendars.

He noted that the incessant strikes had affected teaching and learning and had led to the colossal falling standard of education in the country.

The Don decried that the uncertainties in Nigerian universities had denied students the opportunity to graduate as and when due, owing to unnecessary delays occasioned by frequent strikes.

“Frequent strikes have affected teaching and learning and as a result, we are seeing falling standard of graduating students from the universities.

“Strike often forces teachers to condense the time table of courses and rush the students to examination.

“When curriculum says three credit courses require three hours lectures spread over a week for students to assimilate, but when a lecturer condenses a lecture, that leads to half-baked student.

“Today, students in Nigerian universities hardly know when they will graduate and some of these uncertainties make many students prefer universities in neighbouring African countries.

“This is not because of the superiority of their academic programmes, but the stability of their academic calendar. These students go abroad because our universities have failed to meet their aspirations,” Lassa said.

He further decried the psychological effect of the strikes on the students, adding that the consequences usually faced by students and their parents were largely enormous.

He also said that strike actions by lecturers often led to huge economic loss, as bills for services provided were still being paid by government without being adequately utilised.

“During strikes, universities are shut down; the staff demand that they are paid salaries. During the several months they are on strike the universities still run and pay for services, such as power, water, security and also take care of buildings.

“One month strike by a public university is estimated to be a huge loss amounting to billions. This is really not a good for us.

“The students also go through some psychological trauma and the effect is mostly enormous,” the don decried.

He called on the ASUU and government to seek other alternatives of resolving such disputes.  

Edited By: Abdullahi Yusuf
(NAN)

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APO

Borno closes Lassa fever outbreak, briefs Media on COVID-19

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Following concerted partners’ response, led by the World Health Organization, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Salihu Kwayabura has declared an end of Lassa fever outbreak in Borno State. The current outbreak, which was the second in almost five decades, was isolated from a 30-year old man from Garba Buzu settlement in Maiduguri Metropolitan Council on 23 January 2020.

With the technical guidance of WHO, a team comprising of the Commissioner for Health as Chairman, the Chief Medical Director of the Hospitals Management Board, an infection prevention group at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, UNICEF among others initiated response activities including robust surveillance, contact tracing, risk communication and case management as soon as the index case was reported. 

As of 25 February 2020, 21 cases were reported including 3 confirmed cases with 2 deaths from 9 Local Government Areas. These include Jere, MMC, Gwoza, Monguno, Bayo, Mafa, Biu, Chibok and Askira Uba. Since then, no new cases of Lassa fever were isolated from any part of Borno State.

Although, the outbreak of Lassa fever has been declared over in the State, surveillance and risk communication continue, to ensure that no suspected cases are missed and that the public protects themselves.  “WHO will not lower its surveillance guard and risk communication on Lassa fever despite that the outbreak has been declared closed,” says WHO Emergency Manager, Dr. Collins Owili.

In another development, the Borno State Commissioner for Health has also briefed journalists on the Borno State preparedness for COVID-19. Acknowledging that Borno State has not confirmed a case of COVID-19, Dr. Kwayabura stated that it is imperative to scale up preparedness especially surveillance and risk communication. “We do not have any cases of COVID-19 in Borno State yet, the State Ministry of Health with the support of WHO and partners has activated Emergency Operations Centre that developed a comprehensive preparedness plan in case of COVID-19 outbreak,” says Dr. Kwayabura. 

The Commissioner for Health explained that Borno State initiated temperature screening at the airport for all travelers as well as detailed documentation and close monitoring of travelers arriving from countries where COVID-19 transmission is active. Other response trims include case management, infection prevention control, contact tracing, surveillance and risk communication.

He enjoined the media to educate the public on basic hand-hygiene, coughing etiquette and temperature monitoring.

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Health

Traditional Medicine Board sensitise members on COVID-19, Lassa fever in Lagos

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Prof. Adefule Oshitelu, Chairman, Lagos State Board of Traditional Medicine, on Thursday tasked traditional medicine practitioners on good hygiene to curb the spread of COVID-19 and Lassa fever.

Oshitelu spoke with the Nigeria News Agency at a workshop organised by the Nigeria Council of Physician of Natural Medicine and the Lagos State Board of Traditional Medicine in Lagos.

The workshop, organised in collaboration with the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Yaba, was used to sensitise traditional practitioners on COVID-19 and Lassa fever.

She said the traditional healers have a major role to play in curbing the spread of the virus, noting that they were the first port of contacts in their various localities.

“We decided to organise this workshop at this period to enlighten those that are into natural medicine, because of the COVID-19 pandemic and Lassa fever that we have been nursing for years.

“We need to educate them on how to protect themselves and those who contact them for treatment before going to the hospital.

“We want to show it to the people that nature is very good and to the Western world; we have things that can suppress this pandemic.

“But, we must toe the line of the Federal Ministry of Health, Lagos State Health Ministry and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control to curtail the spread of the pandemic,’’ she said.

Also, Dr Oluwagbemiga Aina, the Coordinator of Centre for Research in Traditional and Alternative Medicine at NIMR, said that the workshop was timely.

“This is coming at the right time because they are the first people that patients go to before going to the hospitals.

“So, it is good for us to enlighten them on the preventive measures against COVID-19 and Lassa fever,’’ he said.

Aina, also the Acting Head of Department, Biochemistry and Nutrition in NIMR, said the institution would continue to collaborate with the traditional practitioners to promote their medicine.

“Here in NIMR, we have a centre where we work and promote herbal medicine.

“Our Director-General in NIMR has a passion and believe that some of our herbs should be able to cure some of the diseases.

“So, that is why we carry out research on their drugs to authenticate their claims and know if they are good for consumption,’’ Aina said.

Commenting, Dr Gab Okafor, a Public Health Physician, said the workshop would help the practitioners to observe the practice needed in their domain.

Okafor, also of the Department, Biochemistry and Nutrition in NIMR, said that the practitioners were the key components of the prevention in their various localities.

“At their levels, we are concentrating more on prevention, owing to the fact that we now have more cases in the country.

“We didn’t just tell them about the prevention of the diseases, we also told them how it came about and its effect generally.

“The practices they need to observe in their domain and how they can contribute to curtailing the spread, because they operate at the community level,’’ she said.

Edited By: Abigael Joshua/Olagoke Olatoye
(NAN)

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Contact US: editor @nnn.com.ng, nnnnews247 @gmail.com

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