LAGOS, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- Lassa fever has claimed a total of 21 lives in its latest outbreak in Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, said Director General of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control Chikwe Ihekweazu.
A total of 77 confirmed cases have so far been recorded since the disease, which affected 10 health workers, broke out, the official said Tuesday in Abuja.
He described the situation as sober, adding that it had resulted in serious emotional trauma, fear, anxiety and sometimes anger among stakeholders.
Ihekweazu said it was high time stakeholders came together and addressed the challenges of hemorrhagic fevers, including Lassa fever.
The national coordinator said NCDC has distributed more Ribavirin drugs used in the treatment of the disease to the affected states than it had ever done in the past.
Lassa fever is a viral infection caused by the Lassa fever virus and the disease occurs all year round but more cases are recorded during the dry season.
It is spread through direct contact with urine, faeces, saliva or blood of infected rats, eating food or drinking contaminated water.
The disease can be prevented through enhanced personal hygiene, avoidance of all contact with rats (dead or alive) and keeping the house and surrounding clean.