According to the health authorities and experts, Lassa fever is difficult to curtail because it is endemic to the Nigerian environment.
In the first quarter of 2018 alone, the disease has caused over 100 deaths with about 2000 suspected cases reported from 20 states.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, acknowledged that while the disease reached its highest peak in the first quarter of this year, the authorities have been able to reduce the prevalence as at April 08, 2018.
“We have had the largest outbreak of Lassa Fever in Nigeria’s history in the first quater of this year,” Chikwe acknowledged.
He said: “Unlike Ebola, there is no magic bullet for Lassa fever,” adding “It is endemic in our environment and as long as there is rat, we will always have cases of Lassa.”
Chikwe clarified the difference between Ebola and Lassa fever, noting that once the Ebola chain of infection is broken, you can effectively stop the spread but Lassa has multiple channels or chain of infections.
To this end, the NCDC boss declared that “Lassa has come to stay for now” but promised that the vaccine is being developed.
He further assured that the fever though endemic and difficult to stop, “is not a death sentence, unlike Ebola,” adding that there is effective treament for lassa and chances of survival very high, especially if detected early.
He listed the three key areas NCDC has been researching on in order to understand the reason for the increased outbreak and widespread of the disease across the country including: changes in the nature of the virus, environmental interactions between the rats and human population, as well as improved surveillance mechanism.
But he maintained that the disease has largely been contained from its peaks in last week February to first week of March with only eight new reported confirmed cases on April 2 to 8, 2018.
You will recall that some Nigerian doctors have vowed not to treat lassa fever patients again until the FG provides protective kits for health practitioners.