Home Health & Living Cholera, Lassa fever claim 202 lives in 6 months – NCDC

Cholera, Lassa fever claim 202 lives in 6 months – NCDC

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No fewer than 202 lives were lost to Lassa fever and cholera in the past six months, according to data released by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC).

The NCDC stated that the country recorded 6,704 suspected Lassa fever cases and 162 deaths across 125 local government areas in 28 states, while the death toll from the latest cholera outbreak had risen to about 40, based on figures shared by the agency.

The NCDC disclosed the figures in its Lassa fever situation report posted on its website on Friday. Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness caused by the Lassa virus, a member of the arenavirus family of viruses.

The NCDC revealed that the case fatality rate (17.8 per cent) is higher than the CFR for the same period in 2023 (17.1 per cent).

“In 2024, 28 states have recorded at least one confirmed case across 125 local government areas. Sixty-five per cent of all confirmed Lassa fever cases were reported in Ondo, Edo, and Bauchi states, while 35 per cent were reported from 25 states with confirmed Lassa fever cases. Of the 65 per cent confirmed cases, Ondo reported 25 per cent, Edo 22 per cent, and Bauchi 18 per cent.

“The predominant age group affected is 21-30 years (Range: 1 to 98 years, Median Age: 32 years). The male-to-female ratio for confirmed cases is 1:1”, it added.

The Director General of the NCDC, Dr Jide Idris, disclosed that the centre did not have enough vaccines. He added that Nigeria had placed an order for more cholera vaccines from donor agencies, even though the date of delivery was still unknown.

The NCDC boss stressed the need for the country to embrace the use of vaccines and other preventive measures to curb the spread of the acute diarrhoeal infection.

On its part, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) said it was working with national health authorities and international organisations to contain the outbreak.

In a post on its X handle, NMA noted that it had deployed rapid response teams across affected states, implementing extensive monitoring and containment strategies, and disseminating accurate information about cholera prevention, symptoms, transmission, precautions, and treatment options.

“In the light of these efforts, the NMA urges individuals, families, and communities to remain calm and adhere to public health measures, including practising good hygiene, ensuring access to safe drinking water, and taking individuals with symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting to the nearest hospital for prompt attention”, the association said.

Experts worry over recurrent outbreaks

The Vice Chancellor of the University of Medical Sciences, Ondo State, Prof Adesegun Fatusi, has stated that the country should be worried about the recurrent outbreaks of cholera and Lassa fever.

He said, “This shows that the level of hygiene and health education of our people is low, because these are preventable conditions. We know what causes cholera, but if you are living in a country where people don’t observe simple hygienic practices or don’t have knowledge of the disease, that’s why we are having cholera. That is the same with Lassa fever. These are things that can be prevented, and we should be very worried because it’s killing our people”.

The don urged the government and individuals to take adequate actions to curb the spread of the diseases.

In a similar vein, a medical virologist and immunologist at Adeleke University, Ede, Osun State, Dr Oladipo Kolawole, said the simultaneous outbreaks of cholera and Lassa fever in Nigeria were a cause for significant concern.

Kolawole noted that cholera is highly contagious and can be fatal if not treated promptly.

The virologist said the simultaneous outbreaks placed an immense burden on healthcare facilities, which might already be under-resourced.

“The capacity to respond effectively to both diseases might be compromised, leading to higher mortality rates. Multiple outbreaks can lead to widespread fear, misinformation, and panic within communities.

“Without addressing the root causes, such as inadequate water and sanitation infrastructure and poor healthcare systems, outbreaks of these diseases may recur. We need to strengthen surveillance systems to monitor and respond to both diseases effectively. Also, we need to educate the public about prevention measures for both cholera and Lassa fever, using various methods and languages.

“The fatalities from Lassa fever and cholera are likely to increase with climate change. Heavy rains can lead to flooding, driving rodents indoors and increasing human-rodent contact. Increased rainfall and flooding can contaminate water supplies with sewage, leading to more widespread cholera outbreaks”, the health expert said.

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