Demise toll rises to 93 in Nigeria’s Lassa fever outbreak

ABUJA, March 9 (Xinhua) — The death toll from the latest Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria has risen to 93, the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) said on Saturday.

In a statement reaching Xinhua in Abuja, the NCDC said the figure represents a fatality rate of about 22.1 percent since the onset of the outbreak in January.

At least 21 out of Nigeria’s 36 states have been affected by the acute viral hemorrhagic fever since Jan. 13, the statement said. The outbreak has also been recorded in the capital, Abuja.

The NCDC confirmed 39 new cases of the Lassa fever, known to be endemic in several west African countries. The new cases were recorded between Feb. 25 and March 3 in six states.

So far, 1,447 suspected cases have been reported nationwide, the NCDC said.

On Jan. 22, Nigerian authorities declared a fresh outbreak of the disease, saying an Emergency Operations Center was activated to coordinate the response.

NCDC chief executive officer Chikwe Ihekweazu told reporters on Friday that 15 health workers have so far been affected by the outbreak.

He said that about 4,900 people suspected to have had contact with those infected had been identified in 19 states.

Recent epidemiological data show that Lassa fever usually occurs in Nigeria during the dry season, between January and April.

Humans become infected with the Lassa virus from exposure to urine or feces of infected mastomys rats. Other than common preventive measures such as washing hands regularly, the World Health Organization has also recommended keeping cats.

In 2018, the NCDC reported at least 143 Lassa fever deaths across the country.

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