Re-emerging Lassa fever outbreaks in Nigeria: Re-enforcing "One Health" community surveillance and emergency response practice

Infect Dis Poverty. 2018 Apr 28;7(1):37. doi: 10.1186/s40249-018-0421-8.


We evaluated the impact of man-made conflict events and climate change impact in guiding evidence-based community "One Health" epidemiology and emergency response practice against re-/emerging epidemics. Increasing evidence of emerging and re-emerging zoonotic diseases including recent Lassa fever outbreaks in almost 20 states in Nigeria led to 101 deaths and 175 suspected and confirmed cases since August 2015. Of the 75 laboratory confirmed cases, 90 deaths occurred representing 120% laboratory-confirmed case fatality. The outbreak has been imported into neighbouring country such as Benin, where 23 deaths out of 68 cases has also been reported. This study assesses the current trends in re-emerging Lassa fever outbreak in understanding spatio-geographical reservoir(s), risk factors pattern and Lassa virus incidence mapping, inherent gaps and raising challenges in health systems. It is shown that Lassa fever peak endemicity incidence and prevalence overlap the dry season (within January to March) and reduced during the wet season (of May to November) annually in Sierra Leone, Senegal to Eastern Nigeria. We documented a scarcity of consistent data on rodent (reservoirs)-linked Lassa fever outbreak, weak culturally and socio-behavioural effective prevention and control measures integration, weak or limited community knowledge and awareness to inadequate preparedness capacity and access to affordable case management in affected countries. Hence, robust sub/regional leadership commitment and investment in Lassa fever is urgently needed in building integrated and effective community "One Health" surveillance and rapid response approach practice coupled with pest management and phytosanitation measures against Lassa fever epidemic. This offers new opportunities in understanding human-animal interactions in strengthening Lassa fever outbreak early detection and surveillance, warning alerts and rapid response implementation in vulnerable settings. Leveraging on Africa CDC centre, advances in cloud-sourcing and social media tools and solutions is core in developing and integrating evidence-based and timely risk communication, and reporting systems in improving contextual community-based immunization and control decision making policy to effectively defeat Lassa fever outbreak and other emerging pandemics public health emergencies in Africa and worldwide.

Keywords: Africa; Early warning; Evidence; Lassa fever; Nigeria; Response; Surveillance; “One Health” approach.

Publication types

  • Letter

MeSH terms

  • Community Participation*
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lassa Fever / epidemiology*
  • Nigeria / epidemiology
  • One Health*
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Prevalence