Nigeria: Govt Announces Decline in Lassa Fever Cases
Abuja — The Federal Government has announced a decline in number
of new cases of Lassa fever in the country.
Chief Executive Officer, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr.
Chikwe Ihekweazu, who disclosed this at a news conference in Abuja,
said that the country had witnessed a reduction in the number of
people who have died from the disease compared to 2018 adding that
the NCDC and partners had continued to sustain response activities in
states across the country, despite progress made so far.
He said, "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, multi-sectoral, is coordinating the national response
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."
Ihekeazu noted that following the large Lassa fever outbreak in 2018;
the NCDC together with partners instituted five key measures to
ensure improved preparedness in 2019.
According to him, NCDC developed new case management guidelines,
initiated a Lassa fever Research Consortium and hosted an
International Conference on Lassa fever to share knowledge adding
that the Centre also supported full availability of drugs, personal
protective equipment, laboratory reagents and other supplies required
for case management and diagnosis of Lassa fever.
He observed this year, there has been no single stock-out reported in
"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 CEO pointed out that 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
"This includes the early deployment of One-Health national Rapid
Response Teams (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," Ihekweazu 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.
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, Edo
He said that prepositioning of treatment and diagnostic supplies to the
21 states that recorded cases in 2018, treatment centres and
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.
The NCDC boss noted that in 2018, genetic sequencing carried out
showed that the virus circulating originated from the pool of lineages
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