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Lassa fever deadlier than coronavirus, data shows

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Two hundred and forty-four (244) – That is the number of lives lost to Lassa fever in 2020, according to the data from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

But while the number is about five times lower than the 1,254 people killed due to coronavirus complications in the same year, the Lassa fever case fatality rate is about 20.5% while coronavirus is 1.5% in 2020. In 2019, the case fatality ratio for Lassa fever was 20.9%.

Globally, the coronavirus case fatality rate of 2.2%.

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The data only confirms that Lassa fever is far deadlier than the Covid-19, but does not play down on how deadly the global pandemic is, showing that coronavirus spreads faster making it a global threat to human relations.

As of 1:15 pm on Tuesday, March 9, COVID-19 has infected above 117, 227, 110 million people worldwide according to the data provided by Johns Hopkins Resource Centre.

158,906 of those cases were confirmed in Nigeria. 1,982 deaths have been recorded since the virus was first discovered in the country in February 2020.

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There 1189 confirmed cases of Lassa fever in 2020, with 244 of those cases leading to death.

Although Nigeria is battling Lassa fever on a large scale, it is receiving less resources because it does not pose an economic threat in the magnitude COVID-19.

In Nigeria, as elsewhere, the Lassa fever is disproportionately found among younger adults, between twenty and thirty years of age. The most devastating consequence of the disease can be deafness.

The most common vector for the disease is the urine and feces of the multimammate rat, a rodent found in rural areas that colonizes areas where people live and where food is available.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, during various periods, Lassa fever patients accounted for between 10 and 16 per cent of hospital admissions in parts of Sierra Leone and Liberia.

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Though crude, such estimates help illustrate the potential impact outbreaks of Lassa fever can have on West African health systems.

“Arenaviruses, which include the Lassa virus, are disproportionately prone to genetic mutations and have a propensity for spread if not adequately controlled,” Dr Olubusuyi Moses Adewumi, a specialist in arenaviruses and virologist at the College of Medicine, the University of Ibadan told Weforum.

“In our environment, the vectors continue to have the opportunity to interact with the human population and consequently spread the virus unchecked,” he added.

There is no vaccine for Lassa fever yet, but fortunately, there is a drug for its treatment.

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