NCDC confirms Lassa fever outbreak at Kaduna Army Hospital

Dr. Jide Idris, Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), has confirmed the outbreak of viral hemorrhagic fever (Lassa fever), which claimed the lives of three staff members at 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital in Kaduna.

Briefing journalists in Abuja on Friday, Idris stated that the NCDC was constantly monitoring the situation and collaborating with state health authorities to limit the sickness.

“The NCDC was notified yesterday (Thursday) by the Kaduna State Ministry of Health of the report of deaths from suspected viral hemorrhagic fever at the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital in Kaduna,” the official added.

Following this notice, the centre has been collaborating with both universities to undertake a thorough investigation into the suspected cases and increase response efforts.

“Four of the six blood samples from suspected cases sent to the Bayero University Teaching Hospital in Kano were positive for Lassa fever. Furthermore, 25 close contacts from all of these cases are now being monitored and treated with preventive medication

“The state’s Ministry of Health has also activated the Incident Management System with all the response pillars including intensified risk communication and community engagement for the prevention and control of Lassa fever in the affected communities.”

Noting that the agency has dispatched rapid response teams to the affected areas of Kaduna State to conduct epidemiological investigations and implement necessary control measures, Idris emphasized the importance of early detection, prompt treatment, and community engagement in preventing the disease’s spread.

“Lassa fever is a viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus, which spreads to humans by contact with food or household items contaminated with rat urine or feces.

“The disease is endemic in Nigeria, with sporadic outbreaks occurring primarily during the dry season,” Idris explained.

He urged healthcare workers and the general public to follow strict hygiene practices, such as proper food storage and waste disposal, to reduce the risk of Lassa fever transmission, and advised those experiencing symptoms such as fever, headache, sore throat, and muscle aches to seek medical attention right away because early diagnosis and treatment can significantly improve outcomes.

By December 2023, Nigeria had 4,540 Lassa fever cases and 875 fatalities.

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