Nigeria's Lassa Fever Death Toll Rises to 161 Amidst New COVID-19 Cases

Lassa fever public health advisory.

Few minutes after Nigeria announced five new confirmed cases of Covid-19, the weekly Lassa fever situation report from Nigeria Centre for Disease Control showed that 161 people had died from the ongoing outbreak.

While nobody has died from the Covid-19 outbreak in the country, the Lassa fever outbreak has been a different story as new cases and deaths have been increasing weekly.

As at the time of reporting, a total of 3,735 suspected cases with 906 confirmed cases (11 probable) and 161 deaths have so far been reported in 123 local government areas in 27 states.

This figures represents the total cases from the beginning of the year till March 15.

Figures from NCDC for the same reporting period in the previous year shows cases this year are higher than what is obtainable for the year.

As of the same period in 2019, a total of 1801 suspected cases with 495 confirmed cases and 114 deaths were reported in 73 local government areas in 21 states.

Nigeria, since the beginning of the year has been reporting cases of Lassa fever, with the season for the outbreak expected to peak between January and May.

The outbreak of the disease has become a yearly routine and this has become an ongoing concern for public health experts and health workers, who yearly lose some of their colleagues to the disease.


In the reporting week 11, four new health workers in Bauchi (three) and Gombe(one) States.contracted the disease. This brings the total number of health workers who have so far been infected this year to 34.

Health workers are often in the first line of call in the treatment of Lassa fever patients and as such makes them susceptible to contracting the disease.

Meanwhile, the number of new confirmed cases for week 11 decreased from 81 cases in week 10 to 51 cases.

In the last two week, there was a slight decline in the number of new confirmed cases reported in the country. It decreased from 85 cases in week nine to 81 cases in week 10, and to 51 cases in week 11.

For the reporting week, cases were reported from 12 States - Edo, Ondo, Ebonyi, Bauchi, Taraba, Plateau, Kogi, Delta, Enugu, FCT, Nasarawa and Gombe.

Also, in total for 2020, 27 States have recorded at least one confirmed case across 123 Local Government Areas.

Of all confirmed cases, 73 per cent are from Edo - 33 per cent , Ondo - 32 per cent and Ebonyi - 7 per cent states.

The predominant age-group affected so far is between 21-30 years and the male to female ratio for confirmed cases has remained 1:1.2.

Lassa Fever

Nigeria now yearly battles a Lassa fever outbreak and this has become an epidemic in the country.

Lassa Fever is a hemorrhagic disease transmitted by a vector called multimammate rat.

The virus is transmitted from the excreta or urine of the vector to humans, and from humans to humans.

There is also no vaccine yet to prevent the spread or from the infection virus. However, the federal government has said there are ongoing researches to find a lasting solution (vaccine) to the outbreak.

In the meantime, NCDC has advised that anyone suspected of being in contact with a Lassa patient needs to be presented to the health facilities within a period of 21 days.

Symptoms of the disease at early stages are similar to febrile illness such as malaria.

General symptoms include fever, headache, sore throat, general body weakness, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pains, chest pain, and in severe cases, unexplainable bleeding from ears, eyes, nose, mouth, vagina, anus and other body orifices. It could also present persistent bleeding from sites of intravenous cannulation.

Early diagnosis and treatment increases a patient's chances of survival.

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