NCDC Issues Warning on Lassa Fever and Reinforces Preventive Measures

NCDC Issues Warning on Lassa Fever and Reinforces Preventive Measures

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On December 16, the Nigeria Center for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) issued a health advisory to the public regarding Lassa fever, emphasizing the need for awareness and preventive measures. The advisory contains essential information on the symptoms, transmission, and prevention of Lassa fever, urging individuals to seek immediate medical attention if they experience any related symptoms.

Understanding Lassa Fever: Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus, with the Mastomys natalensis rodent as its natural reservoir. While other rodents can carry the virus, maintaining clean living environments is crucial to prevent its transmission to humans.

Preventive Measures: The NCDC underscores the importance of good personal hygiene and avoiding contact with rodents or their droppings as fundamental preventive measures against Lassa fever. Keeping living spaces clean and free of rodents is a key recommendation.

2023 Statistics: Reports reveal a concerning increase in confirmed Lassa fever cases in 2023. As of December 3, there have been 8542 suspected cases, 1170 confirmed cases, and 200 deaths, indicating a case fatality rate of 17.1%. This surge raises alarms, necessitating swift and effective public health responses.

Modes of Transmission: The virus spreads through various means, including direct contact with infected rats’ urine, feces, saliva, or blood. Contact with contaminated objects, household items, and surfaces, as well as consuming food or water tainted with the bodily fluids of infected rats, poses risks. Person-to-person transmission can also occur through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person.

Strategic Measures by NCDC: To heighten public awareness and preparedness, the NCDC’s Lassa Fever Technical Working Group (TWG) has implemented several strategic measures:

  1. Conducting biweekly national TWG meetings for improved preparedness, readiness, and response activities, adopting a One Health approach.
  2. Issuing a joint alert with the cerebrospinal meningitis (CSM) TWG to guide state-level preparedness for both Lassa fever and CSM during the shared season.
  3. Capacity building of healthcare workers on Lassa fever preparedness through a clinical management fellowship.
  4. Organizing bi-weekly webinars covering different TWG pillars to enhance readiness for the predicted surge in confirmed cases.
  5. Prepositioning and distributing medical supplies in Lassa fever treatment centers across the country.
  6. Updating the national incident action plan based on lessons from previous outbreaks and findings from surge preparedness workshops.
  7. Publishing weekly situation reports for Lassa fever in Nigeria to guide decision-making and foster collaboration across sectors.

The widespread incidence of Lassa fever across states and LGAs highlights the urgency for robust public health interventions. Enhanced surveillance, early detection, and effective treatment strategies are imperative to curb further outbreaks and reduce the associated mortality rate. Authorities are urged to prioritize these interventions to safeguard public health in Nigeria.

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