Death toll from Lassa fever rises to 14 in southern Nigeria

ABUJA, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- The death toll from Lassa fever in Nigeria's southern state of Ebonyi has risen from 10 to 14 since the beginning of the year, public health authorities said on Wednesday.

The 14 deaths were among 29 cases confirmed so far from the outbreak of the viral hemorrhagic fever recorded as of Tuesday, Hyacinth Ebenyi, the director of public health in Ebonyi, told reporters in the state capital of Abakaliki.

At least 110 suspected cases of the disease have been recorded in Ebonyi since the beginning of the year, Ebenyi said, noting that "there has been an increase in the cases of Lassa fever, and it is endemic in the state."

Lassa fever is a disease spread to humans through food or household items contaminated with rodent urine or feces. It is reportedly transmitted when saliva, urine, and excreta of rats come into contact with humans.

The outbreak in Ebonyi has prompted urgent collaborative efforts by the government and relevant partners to stem the spread of the highly infectious disease.

The state government said on Sunday that at least 25 people, including two healthcare workers, were infected between Jan. 4 and Feb. 16.

Ebenyi said on Wednesday that the disease is common during the dry season, urging residents to "stop eating rats and not allow rats to come into contact with their food."

In 2023, at least 219 deaths were recorded from 1,227 confirmed cases of Lassa fever, according to the Nigeria Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

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