The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says 188 deaths have been recorded as casualties of Lassa fever in 2020.

Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness caused by rodents and is endemic in West African countries.

In its latest situation report published on Thursday, April 9, 2020, the NCDC said three new deaths were recorded between March 30 and April 5. The fatalities were recorded in Ondo, Benue, and Ebonyi.

A total of 12 cases were confirmed in five states in the week under review, a drop compared to the previous week when 19 cases were recorded.

Cumulatively from January 1 to April 5, 188 deaths have been recorded with a case fatality rate (CFR) of 19.5%.

Even though 2020's case fatality rate is lower than the 22.7% recorded for the same period in 2019, the number of suspected cases has significantly increased.

A total of 963 Lassa fever cases have been recorded in 27 states across 126 local government areas across the country. The predominant age-group affected is 21-30 years.

963 Lassa fever cases have been recorded in 2020 [NCDC]
963 Lassa fever cases have been recorded in 2020 [NCDC]

Ondo has recorded the highest number of deaths with 44, followed by Edo with 39, Taraba with 21, and Ebonyi with 16.

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.

Lassa fever's high death toll has raised concerns as the country is also currently battling to contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) which has ravaged the world.

As of April 8, Nigeria has recorded a total of 276 coronavirus cases in 16 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Six people have died.