By Williams ABAH
In 2021 no fewer than 102 persons in Nigeria lost their lives to Lasa fever even as the country battled with the rampaging COVID-19 pandemic.
It was gathered that about 120 per cent drop from the 244 deaths recorded from the viral disease in 2020, according to the yearly statistical report on Lassa fever by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC.
Presenting the data in Abuja, the director general, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, Dr. Chike Ihekweazu, revealed that as of Week 52, December 27 there had been a decline in Lassa fever infections as against the previous years.
According to the report, which ended the epidemiological cycle for 2021, Nigeria in the year recorded a total of 4,654 suspected cases out of which 510 were confirmed. The cases were reported in 17 states and 58 local governments.
Meanwhile, in 2020 Nigeria recorded a total of 6,732 suspected cases of Lassa fever with a total of 1,181 infections in 27 states and 131 local governments, the NCDC data revealed.
This indicated that there was an almost 50 per cent decline in suspected cases and about 115 per cent decrease in confirmed infections when the 2021 data is compared with that of 2020.
Health experts at the event attributed the disparity in figure of 2021 and 2020 to two factors, according to them, the huge challenge posed by the COVID-19 war in its first year, which drew attention away from the usual reaction to Lassa fever and the confusion by patients as to whether they were dealing with COVID-19 or Lassa fever
According to NCDC figures, in the reporting week 52, the number of new confirmed cases decreased from 29 in week 51, 2021 to 28 cases. These were reported from Ondo, Edo, Bauchi, Kaduna, Taraba States and the FCT.
It was learnt that from week 1 to week 52, 2021, 102 deaths were reported with a case fatality rate CFR, of 20.0 per cent which is lower than the CFR for the same period in 2020, 20.7 per cent in total for 2021, 17 states recorded, at least, one confirmed case across 68 local government area.
The data further disclosed that all the confirmed cases, 84 per cent were from three states with Edo State contributing 42 per cent; Ondo 34 per cent, and Bauchi eight per cent.
The data also revealed that the predominant age-group affected was 21-30 years with the male to female ratio for confirmed cases put at 1:0.9. The number of suspected cases decreased compared to that reported for the same period in 2020.
It was also learnt that no healthcare workers were affected in the reporting week 52, under review