8 February 2019, Brazzaville – With five countries in Western Africa reporting outbreaks of Lassa fever, the World Health Organization (WHO) has scaled up its efforts to support the region’s response to the disease.
While these outbreaks are occurring during the Lassa fever season in countries where the disease is endemic, the speed of escalation is of concern.
The largest outbreak thus far has affected 16 states in Nigeria. The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) declared an outbreak of Lassa fever on 22 January 2019. The 213 confirmed cases to date, including 42 deaths, mark a significant increase – already a third of the total cases for all of last year, when Nigeria experienced its worst outbreak of Lassa fever. Four health workers have been infected so far in this latest outbreak.
In Nigeria, WHO is scaling up its efforts to support the Federal authorities, NCDC and the affected Nigerian states in responding to the outbreak. An important focus is on early detection and confirmation of suspected cases, providing optimal supportive care and ensuring infection prevention and control measures in designated health care facilities in the affected states. WHO has intensified its technical assistance and is supporting coordination, enhanced surveillance, epidemiological analysis and risk communication. WHO is also mobilizing experts to support case management and infection prevention and control.