At least 76 people have died in Nigeria in the latest outbreak of Lassa Fever.
During an emergency meeting to discuss the outbreak, the Nigerian health minister Isaac Adewole said the country has already recorded 212 suspected cases.
“Ordinarily one would not have bothered to call this meeting but when you have evidences of person to person transmission we need to be worried. When you have health care professionals affected as you have in Rivers State, Lagos state and FCT (Federal Capital Territory), then we should be worried and this is why this meeting is important,” Adewole said.
As you can see, the cases could beat that of 2012 by about three times so we could get up to 3,000 cases.
Calls have been made for the West African nation to declare an emergency following the latest outbreak of the fever.
“What will happen if we don’t do what we are supposed to do? As you can see the cases could beat that of 2012 by about three times so we could get up to 3,000 cases and then maybe about — you know — how many deaths there? 1,000 deaths. This is what we must all rise together to prevent and we must not allow this to happen,” Abdulsalami Nasidi, a Director at Nigeria’s CDC said.
What is Lassa Fever?Lassa fever caused by the Lassa Virus is an acute viral hemorrhagic illness that occurs in West Africa.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the illness infects 100,000 to 300,000 people annually, with about 5,000 deaths.
How is it transmitted?
The virus which was identified in 1969 is transmitted to humans through contact with food and even household items that have been contaminated with excretion from rodents. It can also be spread between humans through direct contact with bodily fluids.
Symptoms and Treatment
While the incubation period of the fever is 6 to 21 days, infected persons develop fever, general weakness and malaise, according to the WHO.
In a couple of days, the symptoms manifest through headache, sore throat, muscle pain. If the illness is not treated promptly, bleeding from several parts of the body occur before death.
By using an antiviral drug ribavirin, one can be treated of Lassa fever, although there is currently no vaccine for the illness.