Lassa fever kills at least 40 in Nigeria

2012-02-27 21:22

Lagos - An official has asked Nigerians to avoid burning bushes after a Lassa fever outbreak has killed at least 40 people this year.

Chief epidemiologist Dr Henry Akpan said on Monday that bush-burning drives the rat species responsible for the disease into people's homes.

The health ministry has said 87 out of 397 suspected Lassa fever cases in 12 states have been confirmed and that it is making medication available.

People get ill through contact with the rat's droppings and urine or through contact with the body fluids of an infected human.

The virus is unnoticeable in most cases, but it can also cause a severe and sometimes fatal disease. An estimated 100 000 to 300 000 infections occur every year in West Africa, with approximately 5 000 deaths.