The transmission of Lassa fever has dropped significantly across Nigeria with a total of 30 cases recorded nationwide in the past two months.
The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Chikwe Ihekweazu, had announced in April that the 2020 outbreak is the largest ever reported anywhere in the world.
The NCDC then announced later in April that the emergency phase of the 2020 outbreak was over because the case count had dropped below levels considered to be a national emergency.
At the time of the announcement, the country had recorded a total of 979 cases and 188 deaths, just around the same time it had to deal with the community spread of COVID-19 that was first detected in China.
Since the April announcement, the number of Lassa fever infections detected have continued to drop across the country.
The latest situation report published by the NCDC on Saturday, August 22 showed only one case of Lassa fever, in Edo, was recorded in Week 33 (August 10 – August 16).
This raised the total number of 2020 infections to 1,061, 30 more cases than the 1,031 recorded as of June 14, the end of Week 24.
A total of eight deaths were also recorded in the same two-month period, raising the death toll from 214 to 222.
At least one case of the Lassa fever has been detected in 129 local government areas across 26 Nigerian states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
Ondo has recorded the highest number of cases with 363, closely followed by Edo (339), Ebonyi (76), and Taraba (57).
Ondo has also recorded the highest number of deaths with 65, followed by Edo with 39, and Ebonyi and Taraba with 22 each.
Other states affected are Abia, Adamawa, Anambra, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Delta, Enugu, FCT, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Nasarawa, Plateau, Rivers, and Sokoto.
Lagos, Ogun, Osun, and Oyo have also recorded confirmed cases, but are the only states with zero deaths during the course of the year.
Lassa fever infection can happen through contact with excreta or urine of rodents; contact with a probable or confirmed Lassa fever case within a period of 21 days of onset of symptoms; or any person with inexplicable bleeding/hemorrhagia.
Symptoms of Lassa fever include malaise, fever, headache, sore throat, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, myalgia, chest pain, and hearing loss.
The NCDC said in April’s announcement that a large epidemiological study being implemented in Nigeria and other West African countries is expected to contribute to Lassa fever vaccine development.