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    Friday, June 3, 2022

    Efforts in Producing Lassa Fever Vaccine are Ongoing - Dr Joseph Okoeguale

    The federal government said two months ago that it will begin the enforcement of environmental sanitation to reduce the increasing prevalence of Lassa fever across the country.

    The latest report from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control on Wednesday has revealed that the country has so far recorded 153 deaths in 2022.

    The figure of deaths reported as of May 2022 is higher than the deaths of 58 persons reported in May 2021.

    The Deputy Director, Institute of Viral Haemorrhagic Fever and Emergent Pathogens, Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Edo State, Dr Joseph Okoeguale, in an interview with The PUNCH, lamented that efforts to stop the annual outbreak of the disease have not yielded results.

    He, however, said there were ongoing efforts to produce vaccine for the disease.

    Okoeguale said, “Lassa fever has been a major public health concern in the last one to two decades in Nigeria. It has occurred in annual outbreaks and in the recent past, it is present all year round.

    “Efforts to stop the yearly outbreak through effective measures and counter-measures by international, national and local efforts have not yet materialised.

    “Efforts in producing Lassa fever vaccine are ongoing, some candidate vaccines have passed phase II of vaccine trials.”

    Lassa fever, an animal-borne, or zoonotic, acute viral illness spread by the common African rat also known as the mastomys rat species, is endemic in Nigeria and some other West African countries.

    Since the last outbreak of the disease in 2016, the NCDC noted that there had been an increase in the number of recurring cases.

    In 2019, 796 cases, according to the centre, were reported, while in 2020, 1,165 cases were confirmed during the height of the pandemic.

    The NCDC also confirmed a total of 4,632 suspected cases in 2021.

    The centre stated, “Cumulatively from week 1 to week 20 in 2022, 153 deaths have been reported with a case fatality stop of 19.8 per cent. 23 states have recorded at least one confirmed case across 96 local government areas in 2022.

    “Of all the confirmed cases, 68 per cent are from Ondo, Edo and Bauchi States. The predominant age group affected is between 21 and 30 years old (range 1 to 90 years, median age: 30 years).

    “The number of suspected cases has increased compared to that reported for the same period in 2021.

    ”There has been the deployment of national rapid response teams to Nasarawa, FCT, Edo, Ondo, Bauchi, Ebonyi, Oyo, Taraba and Benue.”

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