: CNN: Lassa fever death rates in Nigeria higher than expected

13:08 Mar. 18, 2016

CNN: Lassa fever death rates in Nigeria higher than expected

More than 20.000 holy rats are living at Karni Mata Temple, a famous Hindu temple dedicated to Karni Mata. (Getty Images)

Firstly diagnosed in 1969, Lassa fever is back

More than 130 people are suspected to have died from a Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria, according to statistics from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

The disease can cause fever and haemorrhaging of various parts of the body - including the eyes and nose - and can be spread through contact with an infected rat. Person to person transmission is also possible, albeit less common.

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For people witnessing the symptoms, alarm bells may ring and raise fears of Ebola - but this is not Ebola.

West Africa as a region is seeing a flare-up of the disease, but Nigeria - where Lassa fever was first discovered in 1969 - is experiencing much higher mortality rates than usual.

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On average, Lassa fever is deadly in 1% of all individuals infected, with higher rates of 15% morbidity among people hospitalized for the illness, but the current outbreak in Nigeria has seen more than 50% of those affected dying from their infection.

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