NCDC Activates National Emergency Operations Centre for Lassa Fever in Nigeria
This year, there has been an increase in the number of Lassa fever (LF) cases reported across the country. As of the 24th of January 2020, 195 confirmed cases and 29 deaths had been reported in 11 states including Ondo and Kano. Given the tropical climate in Nigeria and abundance of the disease vector in our environment, we are at a high risk of infectious diseases like Lassa fever. This is also the case for other African countries with this context.
Despite this increase, the overall Case Fatality Rate (CFR) for 2020 is lower at 14.7% compared to the same period in 2019 which was 23.4%. We are gradually moving towards achieving our target of having a single digit CFR. We continue to support the response activities of affected states through various means including the deployment of Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) for better case management and outcome.
Last week, on the 24th of January 2020, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) activated a National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC). This is an inter-disciplinary Technical Working Group (TWG) for Lassa fever. They have the mandate to ensure a well-coordinated response, case management and swift control of Lassa fever outbreaks.
Within this structure, public health measures are being instituted across the following pillars:
1. Coordination: National LF TWG is working closely with states and relevant development partners to coordinate emergency response activities
2. Surveillance: continuous monitoring of outbreak reports, case investigation and contact tracing through enhanced surveillance
3. Laboratory: prompt diagnosis of all case samples across the five laboratories for Lassa fever testing in the country
4. Infection Prevention and Control: dissemination of IPC advisory and safe burial guidelines for hospitals and health workers
5. Case management: treatment of confirmed cases, in-depth mortality review and dissemination of reviewed case management
6. Risk communication: scale up the implementation of targeted risk communication activities in the affected states. Dissemination of Lassa fever public health advisory for members of the public and healthcare workers, respectively.
7. Logistics: distribution of response commodities to the affected states e.g. personal protective equipment, Ribavirin (injection and tablets), beds, tents, body-bags, thermometers, hypochlorite hand sanitizers, IEC materials, guidelines and SOPS
The National EOC activation meeting had in attendance representatives from the Federal Ministry of Health, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), World Health Organization (WHO), US Centers for Disease Control (US-CDC), United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET), Georgetown University etc.
Lassa fever is preventable and can be treated especially if patients present early to a health care facility. It is important that Nigerians maintain good personal hygiene, keep their environments clean, store their food properly to avoid contact with rodents and avoid self-medication. It is also important for health workers to maintain a high index of suspicion and practise universal care precautions to protect themselves from infection. For more information on prevention of Lassa fever, see our public health advisory here.
Summary of Incidents
1. Information for this disease was retrieved from the Technical Working Group and Situation Reports
2. Case Fatality Rate (CFR) for this disease is reported for confirmed cases only
3. Information for this disease was retrieved from IDSR 002 data
4. CFR for this disease is reported for total cases i.e. suspected + confirmed
5. Information for sentinel influenza was retrieved from the laboratory