Lassa fever in Nigeria kills 73 as outbreak of deadly virus continues to spiral – just days after World Health Organisation warned disease is an ‘urgent’ threat

Health officials in the African country warn cases of Lassa fever have rocketed by nearly 50 per cent in a week

By Stephen Matthews For Mailonline

23 February 2018

Health officials warn cases of Lassa fever have rocketed by nearly 50% in a week

At least 913 suspected cases of the disease have been recorded so far in 2018

Lassa fever can cause bleeding from the vagina and without treatment can kill

An unprecedented outbreak of a disease that causes bleeding from the vagina has now killed 73 people in Nigeria, according to the latest figures.

Health officials in the African country warn cases of Lassa fever have rocketed by nearly 50 per cent in a week. 

It comes just days after the World Health Organization named the deadly virus in its list of pathogens that pose the most ‘urgent’ threat.

At least 913 suspected cases of Lassa fever have been recorded since the turn of the year, Nigeria’s Center for Disease Control states. 

By contrast, a cumulative toll of cases released last week revealed just 615 had been recorded since January 1. 

Elsie Ilori, manager of the NCDC’s Lassa Fever Emergency Operations Centre, said the situation currently ‘is overwhelming’.

In an interview with Bloomberg, she explained that the current outbreak is ‘more than what we have seen before’. 

The Lassa fever outbreak, which has struck 17 of Nigeria’s 36 states, has already prompted international aid efforts.

Nigerian officials praised the WHO earlier this week for its efforts in containing the outbreak, despite figures showing cases are on the rise.

A separate statement released today by the WHO also warned of a potential spike in cases in two nearby countries on the west coast of Africa.

It revealed a patient from Guinea had sought treatment in Liberia after becoming ill. She later died and was confirmed to have Lassa fever. 

Lassa fever is endemic in Nigeria and several other countries on the west coast of Africa, including Liberia and Guinea, according to the WHO. 

Symptoms begin with headaches, sore throats and vomiting, but it can trigger bleeding from the mouth, nose or vagina.

However, they gradually progress to shock, seizures, tremors, disorientation and comas without prompt treatment.

A quarter of patients will also experience temporary deafness that will eventually return, medical literature states. 

Pregnant women who contract the disease late in pregnancy face an 80 per cent chance of losing their child or dying themselves. 

It can either be spread by rats or from person-to-person by exposure to bodily fluids of someone who is infected. 

It comes just a week after ten killer viruses that pose the most ‘urgent’ threat to humanity were revealed by concerned experts.

The World Health Organization released its annual list of lethal pathogens that research should be fast-tracked for.

Ebola and Zika, which both have caused brutal pandemics in the past four years, were named amid fears they could strike again.

For the first time ever, ‘Disease X’ – representing a pathogen currently unknown to scientists – was mentioned by the WHO. 

The list came amid mounting fears of a global pandemic, with experts concerned about the flu season that rocked the world.

Dr Tedros Adhanom, director general of the WHO, previously warned humanity is ‘vulnerable’ to an outbreak that could kill millions.


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