In a follow-up to the Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced today that it is increasing it’s response as the continues it’s spread in the country.

Nigeria map divided by states/United Nations
Nigeria map divided by states/United Nations

Between 1 January and 4 February 2018, nearly 450 suspected cases were reported in 17 states, of which 132 are laboratory confirmed Lassa fever. Of these, 43 deaths were reported, 37 of which were lab confirmed.

Among those infected are 11 health workers, four of whom have died.

“The high number of Lassa fever cases is concerning. We are observing an unusually high number of cases for this time of year.” said Dr. Wondimagegnehu Alemu, WHO Representative to Nigeria.

From the onset of the outbreak, WHO Nigeria deployed staff from the national and state levels to support the Government of Nigeria’s national Lassa fever Emergency Operations Centre and state surveillance activities. WHO is helping to coordinate health actors and is joining rapid risk assessment teams travelling to hot spots to investigate the outbreak.

With the increase in the number of cases, WHO initially donated personal protective equipment to the Nigeria Center for Disease Control and to the affected states and procured laboratory reagents to support the prompt diagnosis of Lassa fever. WHO is deploying international experts to coordinate the response, strengthen surveillance, provide treatment guidelines, and engage with communities to raise awareness on prevention and treatment.