Nigeria says ‘emergency’ over in Lassa fever outbreak

LAGOS (AA): The emergency phase was lifted in the Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria, the country’s Center for Disease Control (NCDC) said on Friday. ChikweIhekweazu, the NCDC director general, said in a statement that 129 persons died of the hemorrhaging fever outbreak in at least 21 Nigerian state of total 36.

Nigeria declared Lassa fever emergency in January as many people were infected with the disease virus in many states. The disease was first discovered in the country in the 1960s. The case count of the disease significantly shrank in the past seven weeks and dropped below levels considered to be a national emergency, Ihekweazu said.

“This year, there was also a decline in the case fatality rate of Lassa fever, from 27% in 2018 to 22% in 2019,” he said.

“Despite the end of the emergency phase of this outbreak, the NCDC expects that sporadic cases may continue to be reported in endemic areas/hotspots and the agency will now coordinate preparedness and response activities through a multi-sectoral Lassa fever Technical Working Group, Ihekweazu said. The group will continue to monitor cases and improve diagnosis and disease prevention efforts across Nigeria, he added. Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhaging illness that occurs in West Africa, endemic in Benin, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. It is transmitted to humans via contact with food or household items contaminated with rodent urine or faeces, according to the World Health Organization.