The death toll from Lassa fever in Nigeria this year has risen to 171 people despite measures by the government to reduce infections across the country, the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) said on Sunday.
In its latest Lassa fever situation report, the NCDC said there are 917 confirmed cases, with 6,660 suspected cases recorded since the beginning of the year.
In the week from September 5 to 11 alone, eight new confirmed cases and one death were recorded. So far, 25 states have recorded at least one confirmed case across, the public health agency said.
The NCDC said the case fatality rate was 18.6 percent, lower than that for the same period last year, which stood at 23.3 percent. The disease control centre said the predominant age group affected by the fever is 21-30 years, with the male-to-female ratio for confirmed cases being 1:0.8.
According to the World Health Organization, Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness caused by the Lassa virus, a member of the arenavirus family of viruses.
Humans usually become infected with the Lassa virus through exposure to food or household items contaminated with urine or faeces of infected Mastomys rats.
The disease is endemic in the rodent population in parts of West Africa.
In some cases, Lassa fever has similar symptoms to malaria, appearing between one and three weeks after exposure to the virus. In mild cases, the disease causes fever, fatigue, weakness, and headache.
The NCDC said it remains committed to supporting state public health teams to achieve the goal of reducing the Lassa fever case fatality rate to a single digit. The disease control agency said it is currently distributing medical response commodities to states and treatment centres as part of measures to control the spread of the disease.