Reports from the northern part of the country at the weekend showed that its not yet Uhuru for Nigeria, as the issue of Lassa Fever is concerned, as five more cases of the disease have been reported in four states, indicating the possibility of a spread further.
Confirming the new cases, as reported by Channels TV, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said that two cases were reported from Plateau State, one from Rivers, and one each from Bauchi and Gombe. They all occurred between August 24 to September 2.
The individual with the Lassa fever in Gombe died on August 22 while others are still alive.
According to the agency, public health response has commenced in all the affected states under the leadership of the respective state’s Ministries of Health.
“Resources were immediately mobilised from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and its partner, the Nigerian Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme (NFELTP), to support the investigation and management of cases in the affected states,” the agency said in a statement.
Natal multimammate mouse is the primary animal host of the Lassa virus.
The Chief Executive Officer of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, stressed the need for early detection of the disease and reporting of the cases.
“We commend the early detection and reporting of the most recent cases, as it significantly improves the likelihood of survival for the cases and also reduces the risk of further transmission. We also urge all States to report cases immediately for Lassa fever while improving on the timeliness of their reporting generally,” Dr. Ihekweazu stated.
As a result of increasing number of cases of Lassa fever, the NCDC also issued an advisory to all States, reminding them of the steps they have to take to prepare and respond to cases of Lassa fever and other haemorrhagic fevers, as well as the resources that they can access for this.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control further reiterated its commitment to supporting the States to prevent the spread of Lassa fever in Nigeria.
Virus Spreads To Human
Lassa fever fresh cases resurfaced on August 22, with Delta State recording the death of a medical doctor.
After his death, several other persons have been placed under surveillance in different states, with sensitisation campaigns also increasing.
The virus spreads to human from rodents and it is then shed in their excreta (urine and feces), which can be aerosolised.
In fatal cases, Lassa fever is characterised by impaired or delayed cellular immunity leading to fulminant viremia.
Infection in humans typically occurs by exposure to animal excrement through the respiratory or gastrointestinal tracts.
Inhalation of tiny particles of infectious material (aerosol) is believed to be the most significant means of exposure.
It is possible to acquire the infection through broken skin or mucous membranes that are directly exposed to infectious material.
Transmission from person to person has also been established, presenting a disease risk for healthcare workers.