According to a report by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), a total of 188 persons have so far died of Lassa fever in Nigeria this year.
This is coming at a time the world, including Nigeria, is battling the spread of the dreaded coronavirus.
The casualty figure was recorded between January 1 and April 5, 2020.
Lassa fever is a disease spread to humans through food or household items contaminated with rodent urine or faeces.
The disease is endemic to the West African country and its name comes from the town of Lassa in northern Nigeria where it was first identified in 1969.
It is endemic in parts of West Africa including Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria. Neighbouring countries are also at risk.
The NCDC’s report also indicated that Nigeria had so far recorded 963 confirmed cases and 14 probable cases of the disease this year.
These are against the 537 confirmed cases and 15 probable cases recorded during the same first 14 weeks of 2019.
The confirmed and probable cases recorded this year are from the 4,287 suspected cases documented during the same period.
The cases are said to be spread across 27 states and 126 local government areas across the country.
The report read, “In Week 14 (of 2020), the number of new confirmed cases decreased from 19 cases in week 13 to 12 cases.
“Cumulatively from week 1 to week 14 of 2020, 188 deaths have been reported with a case fatality rate of 19.5 per cent which is lower than the CFR for the same period in 2019 (22.7 per cent).
“In total for 2020, 27 states have recorded at least one confirmed case across 126 Local Government Areas.”
A breakdown of the confirmed cases according to states showed that Edo State has the highest number of confirmed cases with 314.
The state is followed by Ondo (309), Ebonyi (73), Taraba (55), Bauchi (43), Kogi (34), and Plateau (28), among others.
Of the 188 deaths, Edo again has the highest number of 39 deaths.
The state is followed by Ondo (44), Taraba (21), Bauchi (18), Ebonyi (16), Kogi (8), and Plateau (6) and Kaduna (5) among others.
Kaduna State recorded the five deaths at a period it recorded seven confirmed cases.
The number of suspected cases in the country has increased significantly to 4,287 compared to the 2,133 reported for the same period in 2019.
As part of response activities, the NCDC said the National Emergency Operations Centre had been activated to coordinate response activities across states while states with confirmed cases gave activated state-level EOCs.
It added that National Rapid Response Teams had been deployed from the centre to support response activities in 10 states.
It said the five molecular laboratories for the Lassa fever testing in the centre’s network were working full capacity to ensure that all samples are tested and results provided within the shortest turnaround time.