With two more deaths recorded in the past week, the death toll of Lassa fever in Nigeria has risen to 144 since the beginning of the year, local health authorities said on Thursday.
In its latest update on Lassa fever, the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) said the viral hemorrhagic fever has so far spread to 24 states, with a total of 823 confirmed cases and 4,108 suspected cases since January.
The NCDC put the fatality rate at 17.5 percent, with cases reported in 98 of the country's 774 local government areas.
Amid intensified measures by the government to reduce infections, each of the affected local government areas has recorded at least one confirmed case so far, the public health agency said.
"The predominant age group affected is 21-30 years while the male-to-female ratio for confirmed cases is 1:0.9," the NCDC said.
According to the World Health Organization, Lassa fever is caused by the Lassa virus. Humans usually contract the virus through exposure to food or household items contaminated by the urine or feces 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.