Lassa fever has claimed another life in Ondo State for the third consecutive week, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

The southwestern state has recorded one death in each of the past three weeks starting April 26, 2020. Zero fatalities had been recorded across Nigeria in the preceding three weeks before then.

A total of 194 deaths caused by Lassa fever, an acute viral haemorrhagic illness caused by rodents and endemic in West African countries, have now been recorded since January.

Six new cases were recorded in Edo (3), Ondo (2), and Bauchi (1) between May 11 and May 17, as reported in the NCDC's latest situation report published on Friday, May 22.

1,006 cases have now been recorded in 27 Nigerian states, with at least one confirmed case across 128 local government areas across the country.

Last month, the NCDC declared that the emergency phase of the 2020 Lassa fever outbreak was over because its case count dropped below levels considered to be a national emergency.

However, the agency's Director-General, Chikwe Ihekweazu, said Nigeria will continue to record Lassa fever cases even though the country had passed its usual January to April peak period.

NCDC's Director-General, Chikwe Ihekweazu, says authorities are working on a Lassa fever vaccine [Twitter/@Dawisu]
NCDC's Director-General, Chikwe Ihekweazu, says authorities are working on a Lassa fever vaccine [Twitter/@Dawisu]

The NCDC boss had earlier in April described the outbreak as the largest Lassa fever outbreak ever reported anywhere in the world.

The agency said in last month's announcement that a large epidemiological study being implemented in Nigeria and other West African countries is expected to contribute to Lassa fever vaccine development.

Ondo has recorded the highest number of cases with 327, closely followed by Edo (326), Ebonyi (74), and Taraba (56).

Ondo has also recorded the highest number of deaths with 47, followed by Edo with 39, Taraba with 21, and Bauchi with 19.

Other states affected are Abia, Adamawa, Anambra, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Delta, Enugu, FCT, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Lagos, Nasarawa, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, and Sokoto.

Lagos, Ogun, Osun, and Oyo have recorded confirmed cases, but zero deaths during the course of the year.

Lassa fever infection can happen through contact with excreta or urine of rodents; contact with a probable or confirmed Lassa fever case within a period of 21 days of onset of symptoms; or any person with inexplicable bleeding/hemorrhagia.

Symptoms of Lassa fever include malaise, fever, headache, sore throat, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, myalgia, chest pain, and hearing loss.