By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

The Lassa fever case count and death toll continues to rise in Nigeria this January. The Nigerian CDC reported an additional 81 confirmed Lassa cases during the week ending Jan. 19, bringing the case tally for 2020 to 163 to date.

Image/Robert Herriman

In addition, 10 more deaths were reported that week. Nigeria has seen 24 deaths among confirmed Lassa fever cases.

In total for 2020, nine states have recorded at least one confirmed case across 32 Local Government Areas. 89% of all confirmed cases are from Edo (38%), Ondo (38%) and Ebonyi (11%) states.

The Nigerian CDC also issued a Lassa fever Healthcare Worker Advisory last week. This is to prevent person to person transmission of Lassa fever especially in health care settings.

Lassa fever is a major public health challenge in West Africa, with Nigeria bearing the highest burden. It is an acute viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF) caused by the Lassa virus. The natural reservoir for the virus is the Mastomys natalensis rodent (commonly known as the multimammate rat). Other rodents that carry the virus have also been identified.

Epidemiological data show that Lassa fever occurs throughout the year, but more cases are recorded during the dry season i.e. November through May.