Lassa fever has claimed 12 lives in Benin

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Since early January, an outbreak of Lassa fever has spread throughout the West African country

COTONOU, Benin – Twelve people have been killed by Lassa fever since its outbreak in Benin early January, the country’s Ministry of Health said on Monday.

The death toll from an outbreak of Lassa fever spreading across the West African country includes four health workers. In total, there are 25 suspected cases, said Health Ministry deputy director Lucien Toko.

In addition, more than 350 people, which do not yet show symptoms of Lassa fever, are currently under surveillance after having been in contact with suspected cases, Toko added.

A previous official toll, released a week ago, reported nine deaths and 20 suspected cases.

The last case of Lassa fever in Benin was seen in 2014 when the fever killed at least eight people.

In neighboring Nigeria, the death toll from Lassa fever since its resurgence last year in August rose to 101 on Sunday.

Lassa fever is described by the World Health Organization as an “acute viral hemorrhagic illness” which can be passed to people via infected food or from household items contaminated with rodent droppings.

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