Abuja — Medical groups are making frantic efforts to contain the spread of a Lassa fever outbreak that has killed at least 40 people in Nigeria this year.
Some 450 cases of the acute viral hemorrhagic fever have been reported in the southern parts of the country.
The current number of cases is more than double the average annual caseload recorded in previous years.
The Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA) has embarked on a rapid emergency response to the outbreak after reported epidemics across 17 of the West African country's 36 states.
ALIMA's priority is to help Nigerian health authorities protect and train hospital staff, improve case management and facilitate actions in the community to control the transmission of the disease.
"The goal is to catch cases early, and improve the chances of survival for those who become infected," said Guillaume Le Duc, ALIMA's Lassa Coordinator.
An emergency team from ALIMA, including an epidemiologist, medical doctors, logisticians and a coordinator, are on the ground in Edo and Ondo States.
Nigeria's Centre for Disease Control, federal and state health authorities are also involved but battling other diseases such as cholera.
Lassa fever is usually transmitted to humans from the infected urine or feaces of the Mastomys rat.
Human-to-human transmission is also possible, via contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, putting health workers at an especially increased risk of infection.
Three health workers are among those dead in the outbreak in Nigeria.
Symptoms of the disease include fever, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, sore throat and hemorrhaging. - CAJ News