Lassa Fever: Nigeria’s death toll reaches 144

Rats used to illustrate the story. [PHOTO CREDIT: BBC]
Rats used to illustrate the story. [PHOTO CREDIT: BBC]

Few minutes after the Covid-19 disease was classified as a pandemic, Nigeria reported that the death toll from the ongoing Lassa fever outbreak ravaging the country rose to 144.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Wednesday said since the onset of the 2020 outbreak, the country has recorded 855 confirmed cases and 144 deaths.

As of last week, the number of deaths was 132, meaning 12 people died from the disease within the last week.

Nigeria has only recorded two cases of coronavirus which has infected over 110,000 people globally, leading to over 4,000 deaths.

Lassa fever outbreaks have become endemic in Nigeria as the disease is now being diagnosed all year round. The outbreak peaks in the dry season from November to May.

In the last few years, the number of suspected and confirmed cases, as well as deaths from the disease have been rising, leading to concerns from health experts.

Health workers

Every year, health workers are also affected by the disease, sometimes leading to fatalities.

In the reporting week, two new health workers were affected in Edo and Bauchi states.

This brings the total number affected health workers to 29.

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.

This situation has led to an outcry from the association of health workers (Nigeria Medical Association and National Association of Resident Doctors) to the government to take seriously finding a lasting solution to the yearly outbreak.


Meanwhile, the weekly situation reported that three states, Edo, Ondo and Ebonyi, have the highest number of cases from the outbreak.

Of all confirmed cases, 74 per cent are from three states: Edo, 34 per cent; Ondo 33, per cent, and Ebonyi 7 per cent.

The five states with the highest number of confirmed cases are: Edo with 288 confirmed cases and 32 deaths; Ondo, 279 confirmed cases and 38 deaths; Ebonyi with 59 cases and 13 deaths; Taraba with 47 cases and 17 deaths and Bauchi with 35 cases and nine deaths.

For the reporting week, there was a slight decline in the number of new confirmed cases as it decreased from 85 cases in week nine to 81 cases.

These cases were reported from 15 states – Edo, Ondo, Ebonyi, Bauchi, Taraba, Plateau, Benue, Kogi, Anambra, Delta, Enugu, Adamawa, Kaduna, Sokoto and Kebbi.

In total for 2020, 27 states have so far recorded at least one confirmed case across 119 local government areas.

Cumulatively from week 1 to week 10, 144 deaths have been reported with a case fatality rate (CFR) of 16.8 per cent.

Also, there has been a significant increase in the figures when compared to the same period in 2019.

According to the statistics, cumulatively between week one and 10, 2020, there were 3416 suspected cases, 855 confirmed, 11 probable and 144 deaths compared to same period in 2019 which had 1752 suspected cases, 472 confirmed, 15 probable and 110 death were reported.

Also, the predominant age-group affected is 21-30 years and the male to female ratio for confirmed cases is 1:1.2.

Lassa Fever

The disease 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.

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.

Coronavirus factsheet


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