ABUJA, Nigeria

A total of 80 people in Nigeria’s Ondo State have died from Lassa fever, an official said Thursday.

Despite the deaths and fears caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak, Lassa fever is more dangerous, said Ondo State Health Commissioner Jibayo Adeyeye, noting that the number of people dying from the disease in the state is more than from COVID-19.

“In Ondo, 41 people died from COVID-19, but more than 80 died from Lassa fever,” Adeyeye said.

Lassa fever is a contagious viral disease that can be passed from animals to humans and humans to humans. The disease, which is usually transmitted by contact with mouse feces, can lead to a fatal hemorrhagic fever.

Authorities are warning the public to be careful about hygiene and not to come into contact with mice and other rodents.

In Nigeria, more than 300 people have died from Lassa fever in 29 states since January.

During the last dry season from November to March, an outbreak of Lassa fever killed 129 people.

Lassa fever, seen in many African countries such as Mali, Togo, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, was first observed in Nigeria in 1969 in northeastern Borno state.

The Nigerian government declared a state of emergency due to Lassa fever in 2019.

*Writing by Merve Berker

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