By Rafiu Ajakaye
LAGOS, Nigeria (AA) - At least 16 people are confirmed dead nationwide in the latest Lassa fever outbreak, emergency officials said Wednesday.
The Center for Disease Control confirmed the death toll in its first statement since the outbreak, adding that 61 cases had been confirmed.
"Since the beginning of 2018, 107 cases were reported in 10 states: Edo, Ondo, Bauchi, Nasarawa, Ebonyi, Anambra, Benue, Kogi, Imo and Lagos,” it added.
The agency said it has activated emergency operation across Nigeria to deal with the disease that claimed 181 lives in 2016 and 2017.
Last week, southeastern Ebonyi state closed all schools to halt the spread of the virus after three deaths.
The viral hemorrhagic fever is named after a Nigerian village where the virus was first discovered in 1969. The source of the virus is traced to a type of rat.
Symptoms may include fever, weakness, headaches, vomiting, muscle pains and bleeding from the mouth or gastrointestinal tract.
The disease is usually spread through contact with the urine or feces of an infected multimammate rat or direct contact with an infected person.