ABUJA, April 6 (Xinhua) -- Nigeria's heath authorities on Saturday confirmed 16 new cases of Lassa fever for the past week from five states in the West African country.
The new cases have brought the number of confirmed cases to 526 out of the 2,034 suspected cases since Jan. 1 in 21 states, Chikwe Ihekweazu, head of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) said in Abuja, Nigeria's capital city.
He told reporters that a total of 121 deaths had been recorded since the onset of the outbreak.
Ihekweazu added that one health care worker was affected in central north Plateau state, bringing it to a total of 17 healthcare workers in seven states since the outbreak of the disease.
The NCDC boss assured that the National Lassa fever multi-partner, multi-sectoral Emergency Operations Center will continue to coordinate the response activities at all levels.
On Jan. 22, Nigerian authorities declared a fresh outbreak of the disease, saying an emergency operations center was activated to coordinate the response.
Recent epidemiological data show that Lassa fever usually occurs in Nigeria during the dry season between January and April.
Human beings become infected with the Lassa virus from exposure to urine or feces of infected mastomys rats. Other than common preventive measures such as washing hands regularly, the World Health Organization has also recommended keeping cats.
In 2018, the NCDC reported at least 143 Lassa fever deaths across the country.