This article is part of our #FirstWord series to provide context on trending news
According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the current Lassa fever outbreak in the country has killed at least 57 people. Since the start of 2019, there have been 731 cases of the disease across 19 states.
In the most recent situation report by the NCDC, 68 new cases were reported from Edo (20), Rivers (1), Delta (1), Oyo (1), Benue (1), Kwara (1), Ondo (22), Ebonyi (7), Bauchi (4), Taraba (3), Plateau (4), Nasarawa (1) and Kaduna (1).
What is Lassa fever?
Lassa fever is a serious viral disease that occurs mostly in the West of Africa. The Lassa virus, which often comes with fever is transmitted to humans through contact with food that has been contaminated by rodents (usually rats) or faeces.
The disease lasts about 2 - 21 days and comes with symptoms like nausea, headache, and muscle pain. In more serious cases there’s bleeding from the mouth, low blood pressure and facial swelling.
Good community hygiene is one of the easiest ways of preventing the spread of the disease. Through proper storage of food items and proper waste disposal, rodents - primary carriers of Lassa virus - are discouraged from entering homes.
Back to Nigeria
At the moment, patients infected with Lassa fever are being managed at various health institutions with reported cases.
The Director-General of NCDC, Chike Ihekweazu, also confirmed to Journalists that a health national rapid response team comprising of staff from NCDC, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Federal Ministry of Environment and the Nigeria Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training program (NFELTP) have been deployed to affected states to treat patients.