Exploring the effects of new viral illnesses on pregnancy outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa

Friday Okonofua


Since 2019, COVID-19 has emerged as one of the deadliest pandemics ever manifested on the global scene, with devastating consequences. About 595 million cases of the virus, with 6.45 million deaths, have been recorded from COVID-19 globally. In Africa, 12.4 million disease cases have been documented, with an estimated 256,000 deaths. While COVID-19 has ravaged the entire world, several new viral illnesses confined mainly to the African continent have also emerged. In this context, we refer to Lassa fever and Ebola Virus. Lassa fever is a zoonotic, acute viral illness spread by the common African rat – Mastomys natalensis. It has had episodes of resurgences in West African countries, especially in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and Nigeria. Current estimates indicate that about 100,000 to 300,000 cases and 5000 deaths occur from Lassa fever annually in West Africa. Ditto for Ebola fever – a disease caused by the Ebolavirus. Some cases of Ebola fever have been found in high-income countries such as Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. However, the most devastating cases of the disease are in West Africa (Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Nigeria). In 2020, 3,481 cases of Ebola were diagnosed globally, with an estimated 2299 deaths and a case fatality rate of 66%, making it one of the most fatal viral illnesses.

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