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BACKGROUND: Lassa fever is a viral haemorrhagic fever endemic in Nigeria. Improved surveillance and testing capacity have revealed in an increased number of reported cases and apparent geographic spread of Lassa fever in Nigeria. We described the recent four-year trend of Lassa fever in Nigeria to improve understanding of its epidemiology and inform the design of appropriate interventions. METHODS: We analysed the national surveillance data on Lassa fever maintained by the Nigeria Centre for Diseases Control (NCDC) and described trends, sociodemographic, geographic distribution, and clinical outcomes. We compared cases, positivity, and clinical outcomes in the period January 2018 to December 2021. RESULTS: We found Lassa fever to be reported throughout the year with more than half the cases reported within the first quarter of the year, a recent increase in numbers and geographic spread of the virus, and male and adult (>18 years) preponderance. Case fatality rates were worse in males, the under-five and elderly, during off-peak periods, and among low reporting states. CONCLUSION: Lassa fever is endemic in Nigeria with a recent increase in numbers and geographical distribution. Sustaining improved surveillance, enhanced laboratory diagnosis and improved case management capacity during off-peak periods should remain a priority. Attention should be paid to the very young and elderly during outbreaks. Further research efforts should identify and address specific factors that determine poor clinical outcomes.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS One

Publication Date





Adult, Humans, Male, Aged, Lassa Fever, Lassa virus, Nigeria, Disease Outbreaks