Lassa fever: A recurring decimal in Plateau state, Nigeria
Background: Since the first reported case of Lassa fever (LF) in Jos, Plateau state Nigeria in the early 70’s, the state has been plagued with increasing number of cases. This could be due to poor environmental practices, food and personal hygiene. By the end of August 2017 there were 42 reported cases with 15 confirmed cases. Sadly, over the years there have been challenges with reporting and investigation of cases. This could be due to weak health systems commonly seen in developing countries.
Methods and Materials: We reviewed 2012-2016 surveillance data from the State Ministry of Health (SMoH) using Microsoft Excel. Descriptive analysis was conducted on the reported LF cases in the state.
Results: Between the years 2012 – 2016 there were 109 reported LF cases, with 57 (52.3%) males and 52 (47.7%) females. The mean age of the reported cases was 27.9± 13.6 years. Out of these, 23 (21.1%) were confirmed cases: 1 (4.5%) in 2012, none in 2013, 2014 and 2015, and 21 (91.3%) in 2016.The male: female ratio was10 (43.5%): 13 (56.5%). Six (26.1%) of the confirmed cases were health workers. The case fatality rate of the confirmed cases was 52.2%. Even though there is significant association between LF and death (P-value = 0.003) the odds ratio, 0.215 (95% CI) is low. The reporting years show consistent increasing trend from 2012 to 2016, except for 2015 where there was a decline in the number of reported cases. In 2016 there were 74 (67.9%) cases, 5 (4.6%) in 2015, 15 (13.7%) in 2014, 12 (11.0%) in 2013 and 3 (2.6%) in 2012.
Conclusion: Even though reported cases are increasing, there are still gaps observed in the surveillance system of the SMoH. The annual recurrence of LF outbreak in the state without reciprocal preventive efforts on ground to combating it has exposed the populace and health workers to ill-health and death.
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