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Lassa fever death toll hits 90 with 1,081 suspected cases in 18 states


• 85% mortality, morbidity from Ondo, Edo, Ebonyi

The death toll of the current Lassa fever outbreak in the country has risen from 73 to 90 persons and 913 to 1,081 suspected cases across 18 states.To address the situation, the British Government has deployed a rapid response team to Nigeria as scientists work round-the-clock to contain the fever.

According to a report published yesterday by DailyMailUK Online, the Public Health England (PHE) announced it would send four specialists amid fears the crisis could soon spiral out of control and that it is just the sixth time the United Kingdom (UK) Public Health Rapid Support Team (PHRST) has been deployed since it was created two years ago.According to the report, help was requested directly by the Nigerian Government, which has already praised international aid efforts from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

In a statement yesterday, PHE described the outbreak of Lassa fever – which can cause bleeding from the vagina – as “unusually severe.”The announcement comes just a week after the WHO named Lassa fever in its list of pathogens that pose the most ‘urgent’ threat.National Coordinator and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, yesterday, in a telephone chat, told The Guardian: “Nigeria is not overwhelmed. In any outbreak we work with partners. We have been working with the PHE. What has happened is that last week we recorded 317 confirmed cases, which is more than what we had the whole of last year. But every case has been treated with ribavirin, which costs N500, 000 per patient and all of them have been paid for.


“We are by no means overwhelmed. We have been working with PHE but they sent a couple more of their staff to help out. We continue to work with the WHO, United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the British Department for International Development (DFID). “Another interesting thing is that 85 per cent of the cases are from Ondo, Edo and Ebonyi.”

According to the latest figures from the NCDC, (February 19-25, 2018), 54 new confirmed cases were recorded from eight states: Edo (21), Ondo (nine), Nasarawa (two), Ebonyi (18), Plateau (one), Kogi (one) Imo (one) and Ekiti (one) with ten new deaths in confirmed cases from five states Ondo (two), Edo (two), Plateau (one), Ekiti (one) and Ebonyi (four and two probable deaths).

The NCDC confirmed: “From January 1 to February 25, 2018, a total of 1,081 suspected cases, and 90 deaths have been reported from 18 active States- (Edo, Ondo, Bauchi, Nasarawa, Ebonyi, Anambra, Benue, Kogi, Imo, Plateau, Lagos, Taraba, Delta, Osun, Rivers, FCT, Gombe and Ekiti).

“Since the onset of the 2018, 325 cases have been classified as: 317 confirmed cases, eight probable cases with 72 deaths (64 in Lab confirmed and eight in probable).”
The NCDC noted that the Case Fatality Rate in confirmed and probable cases is 22 per cent while 14 health care workers have been affected in six states –Ebonyi (seven); Nasarawa (one); Kogi (one); Benue (one); Ondo (one) and Edo (three). Three deaths were recorded in Ebonyi and one in Kogi.

According to the NCDC, Irrua Specialist Hospital, Edo, has 42 cases on admission while FMC Owo, Ondo, has 21 isolation beds, all occupied. It noted that a total of 2,845 contacts have been identified from 18 active states and 1,897 are currently being followed up.

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