NCDC declares Lassa fever outbreak in eight states

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control on Tuesday declared an outbreak of Lassa fever in eight states.

 The Director-General of the NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, in a statement made available to our correspondent, said there had been an increase in the number of Lassa fever cases reported across the country since the beginning of the year.

“As of January 13, 2019, a total of 60 confirmed cases have been reported in Edo, Ondo, Bauchi, FCT, Ebonyi, Nasarawa, Plateau and Taraba states. Given this increase in reported cases of Lassa fever, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has declared this an outbreak and activated an Emergency Operations Centre to coordinate the response,” Ihekweazu said.

The NCDC boss said that the national EOC included representatives from the World Health Organisation, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Federal Ministry of Environment, the United States Centre for Disease Control and other partners.

He added that in preparation for this year’s emergency phase, the agency had been providing support to the 36 states, including the provision of emergency supplies and deployment of Rapid Response Teams that would work with the states in response coordination, contact tracing, case management, risk communication and strengthening infection prevention and control practices.

 “Since the Lassa fever outbreak in 2018, NCDC has worked with states to ensure better preparedness and improved response. In the last one year, guidelines have been revised, new data management tools have been developed and the laboratory network has been strengthened. In addition, risk communications has been strengthened through radio, posters, flyers and social media. A national research plan has been developed, to enable its full integration into the outbreak response to gain a better understanding of the disease.

“The NCDC advises members of the public to focus on prevention by practicing good personal hygiene and proper environmental sanitation. Effective measures include storing grain and other foodstuffs in rodent-proof containers, disposing of garbage far from the home, maintaining clean households, and other measures to discourage rodents from entering homes. Hand washing should be practiced frequently. The public is also advised to avoid bush burning,” Ihekweazu said.