REVIEW PAPER - Challenges and Opportunities in Lassa fever Control Efforts in Nigeria

Anise N. Happi, Chinedu A. Ugwu, Kazeem Akano, Christian T. Happi

Abstract

Lassa fever is a viral zoonotic tropical disease endemic in parts of West Africa. It causes substantial mortality, morbidity and economic burdens on affected populations. The year 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the first diagnosis of Lassa fever in Nigeria. Over the years, a few and sporadic intervention measures have been undertaken to control Lassa fever in Nigeria. However, the disease has remained a burden due to neglect, and apathy from the Government. Here we highlight the Lassa fever control efforts so far undertaken in Nigeria. We also point to some challenges and opportunities for effective Lassa fever control efforts. In addition, we proposed few Lassa fever control measures, which vary from advocacies, training of local communities and health workers in the use of rapid, cheap diagnostic tools. We also propose an integrated genomic surveillance platform that utilizes one health approach, in tracking and tackling Lassa fever, as the key future of Lassa fever control effort. In this review, we present IGOHRAL, an integrated genomic platform that utilizes clinical, genomic and epidemiological data in a one-health approach to tackle Lassa fever problem.

Lassa fever (LF) is a serious viral hemorrhagic fever endemic in West Africa. The history of Lassa fever virus (LVS) in Nigeria is that of neglect, wickedness and apathy (Akpede et al., 2018). Lassa virus was first diagnosed in a missionary hospital in Nigeria in 1969 (Carey et al., 1972).  There was an outbreak of a febrile illness involving hospital staff and those who visited the hospitals. The aetiology was later confirmed to be LVS. Prior to this outbreak, there have been several descriptions of illness resembling LF (Monath, 1975).  However, a genomics study by Anderson et al. later confirmed that the LVS emerged in present day Nigeria over 1060 years ago (Andersen et al., 2015).

Keywords

Challenges, Opportunity, Lassa fever, Nigeria

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References

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