• 17 of 21 affected states have exited active phase of outbreak
• Centre says virus can only be eradicated with elusive vaccine, not available tools
Despite efforts by the Federal Government through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and its international partners, among whom is the World Health Organisation (WHO), Lassa fever outbreak has persisted in the country with six cases and three deaths reported last week in Edo and Ondo states.
The latest figures from NCDC on 2018 Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria in the reporting Week 29 (July 16-22, 2018) showed that the outbreak has been contained from 21 states to just two states of Edo and Ondo.
A breakdown of the figures showed that 17 states have exited the active phase of the outbreak while Edo, Ondo, Plateau and Taraba remain active.The report from NCDC noted: “Six new confirmed cases were reported from Edo (five) and Ondo (one), with three new deaths from Edo (two) and Ondo (one) states.
“From January 1 to July 22, 2018, a total of 2,238 suspected cases have been reported from 21 states. Of these, 467 were confirmed positive, 10 are probable, 1761 negative (not a case). Since the onset of the 2018 outbreak, there have been 120 deaths in confirmed cases and 10 in probable cases. Case fatality rate in confirmed cases is 25.7 per cent.
“Twenty-one states have recorded at least one confirmed case across 71 local councils (Edo, Ondo, Bauchi, Nasarawa, Ebonyi, Anambra, Benue, Kogi, Imo, Plateau, Lagos, Taraba, Delta, Osun, Rivers, FCT, Gombe, Ekiti, Kaduna, Abia and Adamawa).Chief Executive Officer (CEO)/National Co-ordinator of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, who spoke with The Guardian yesterday, said Lassa fever could not be eradicated from Nigeria with the available options but only with a vaccine, which is not on offer.
He said: “Lassa is in our environment. There is no magic bullet. Lassa is endemic in Nigeria. As long as there is no vaccine and rats live with us, we will continue to have cases. We are working hard at getting a vaccine and containing the virus. We will continue with public health education and behaviour change.“It can but when we have a vaccine, not with the tools we have at the moment.”
Meanwhile, according to the latest NCDC report, in the reporting week 29, no new healthcare worker was infected, but 39 health care workers have been affected since the onset of the outbreak in seven states – Ebonyi (16), Edo (14), Ondo (four), Kogi (two), Nasarawa (one), Taraba (one) and Abia (one) with 10 deaths in Ebonyi (six), Kogi (one), Abia (one), Ondo (one) and Edo (one).
The latest figures from the NCDC showed that 81 per cent of all confirmed cases are from Edo (42 per cent), Ondo (24 per cent) and Ebonyi (15 per cent) states; and that four patients are currently being managed at Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH) treatment centre and two at the Federal Medical Centre Owo treatment centre.
Besides, the NCDC noted that 6,251 contacts have been identified from 21 states, and of these, 337 (5.4 per cent) are currently being followed up, 5,816 (93.0 per cent) have completed 21 days follow-up while 10 (0.2 per cent) were lost during follow-up. Eighty-eight (1.4 per cent) symptomatic contacts have been identified, of which 30 (34 per cent) have tested positive from five states (Edo - 14, Ondo - eight, Ebonyi -three, Kogi – three, Bauchi - one and Adamawa - one).