The Federal Government Declared the End of the Emergency Phase of Nigeria’s Lassa Fever Outbreak

“Nigeria is to be congratulated for reaching this important milestone in the fight against Lassa fever,” says Dr. Ibrahima Socé Fall, Regional Emergencies Director for Africa.

The Minister of Health professor Isaac Adewole announced the end of the emergency phase of Nigeria’s Lassa fever outbreak at a press briefing on Thursday, May 10th. With six weeks of declining numbers and only a handful of confirmed cases reported in recent weeks, the critical phase of Nigeria’s largest-ever Lassa fever outbreak is under control.  However, Nigeria is endemic to Lassa fever and people could be infected throughout the year, making continued efforts to control any new flare-ups crucial.

In the last reporting week, ending on 6 May 2018, three new confirmed cases of Lassa fever were reported. This year a total of 423 confirmed cases including 106 deaths have been recorded. The national case numbers have consistently declined in the past six weeks, and have dropped below levels considered to be a national emergency when compared with data from previous outbreaks.

Responding to Lassa fever outbreaks is a marathon, not a sprint. Given the epidemiology of Lassa fever in Nigeria, it is likely that the country will continue to record cases but we will continue to put in place, several medium and long-term activities to enhance preparedness and response- CEO NCDC Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazo

The minister commended the governments of Ondo, Edo & Ebonyi states during the Lassa Fever outbreak and encourage all states to continue to invest resources in protecting the health of its residents

The WHO has promised continued support to the Nigerian government to maintain an intensified response to the current Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria. Thirty-seven health workers have been infected with Lassa fever, eight have died. This highlights the need for implementing standard infection prevention and control precautions with all patients – regardless of their diagnosis – in all work practices at all times. WHO continues to help states which have reported new cases by strengthening their capacity to conduct disease surveillance, treat patients, as well as implement infection prevention and control measures, laboratory diagnostics, and engage with communities.

Related Update: All Hands on Deck as the Democratic Republic of Congo declares New Ebola Outbreak

WHO Country Representative Dr. Wondimagegnehu Alemu said, “Communities are encouraged to remain vigilant and report any rumors to the nearest health facilities because early diagnosis and treatment can save lives.”

Health care workers are urged to maintain a high index of suspicion for Lassa fever when handling patients, irrespective of their health status. Lassa fever should always be considered in patients with fever, headache, sore throat and general body weakness, especially when malaria has been ruled out with a rapid diagnostic test (RDT), and when patients are not improving. Health workers should adhere to standard precautions, and wear protective equipment like gloves, face masks, face shields and aprons when handling suspected Lassa fever patients.

 

The World Health Organisation

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