The number of deaths recorded from the new outbreak of Lassa fever in Nigeria has risen to 40 with 86 suspected cases, the Ministry of Health announced on Friday.
“It is important that I notify the nation through you that in the last 6 weeks Nigeria has been experiencing Lassa fever outbreak which has so far affected 10 states,” said Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole.
“The total number so far reported is 86 and 40 deaths, with a mortality rate of 45 percent,” he added
The total number so far is 86 suspected cases. 40 have died, giving a mortality rate of 43.2%
The Health Ministry said only 22 of the 86 cases have however been confirmed as cases of Lassa fever in the laboratory.
Earlier, 26 people were reported to have died from the disease.
The first suspected case of this new epidemic was reported in Bauchi State in northern Nigeria in November, according to Mr. Adewole.
“The outbreak is not unusual. What is unusual is the large number of deaths recorded which came largely from three states Kano, Bauchi and Niger,” he said
Other cases were subsequently identified in the states of Kano, Niger, Plateau, Taraba, Nassarawa, Gombe, Edo, Oyo and Rivers State.
Most cases reported to date have not been transmissions from human to human.
“The situation in Niger is worrisome because they had unusual deaths since August which were reported about three, four months thereafter. That represents a breakdown in disease notification system,” Mr. Adewole added.
According to the US Control Centre for Disease Prevention, 100,000 to 300,000 cases are reported every year in West Africa with 5,000 deaths.