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Pan African Medical Journal

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Incidence of rubella in a state in North-western Nigeria: a call for action

Semeeh Akinwale Omoleke, Henry Chukwuebuka Udenenwu

Abstract


Introduction: rubella cases are often under-reported, especially in many developing countries, owing to inadequate attention and weak funding of elimination strategies, despite being an epidemic-prone disease. Based on available data, this paper, therefore, seeks to bring the attention of public health practitioners, researchers and policy makers to threats of rubella in our environment, and also recommended measures to mitigate the threats. Methods: the authors conducted a retrospective cross-sectional study in which the laboratory results of febrile-rash-illness cases in Kebbi State, Northwest Nigeria, from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2015 were analysed, using descriptive statistics and chi-square test. We obtained the data set through the routine Integrated Disease Surveillance System and Response being conducted in Nigeria. Results: a total of 413 febrile-rash-illness cases were reported and investigated in Kebbi State from 2014 to 2015, 5 (3.5%) tested positive for rubella IgM in 2014 while 7(2.6%) tested positive in 2015. There was no statistically significant difference in the incidence of rubella between 2014 and 2015 (p> 0.05). Rubella infection was mainly found in children less than 5 years of age with peak incidence period during the hot season (between February and April). There was no significant sex bias in this study. However, our practice experiences in this environment suggest a systematic under-reporting and under-diagnosis of febrile- rash-illnesses.  Conclusion: there was no statistically significant difference in the incidence of rubella in children in our setting for the 2-years studied. However, there is a potential of increase in the transmission of the disease due to the non-availability of routine childhood vaccination against rubella and the systematic, under-reporting of suspected cases and the weak laboratory support. In order to better appreciate the burden of rubella infection, there may be a need to undertake a prevalence survey, and simultaneously, strengthening case-based surveillance in Northwestern Nigeria. Further, WHO should support national government in accelerating the introduction of rubella-containing vaccine to stem the potential spread of this infectious disease.

The Pan African Medical Journal 2016;25

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