Addressing journalists in Abuja, the Minister of State for Health, Dr Ali Pate said that from November 2011 to date, a total of 397 cases of lassa fever have been recorded in eleven states, leaving forty persons dead.
He listed the affected states as Edo, Nasarawa, Plateau, Ebonyi and Taraba.
Others are Yobe, Ondo, Rivers, Gombe, Anambra, Delta, and Lagos.
Lassa fever causes extreme abdominal distension and bleeding, and has a case fatality rate of about 80%.
Although Lassa is classed as a haemorrhagic fever, only about 20 per cent of infected adults actually haemorrhage.
Most cases (roughly 80%) are either mild or exhibit no apparent symptoms. Also the agent is more lethal to non-Africans than Africans and seems to prefer the dry season to wet conditions.
No matter the season though, Lassa is a viscous viral predator; a minuscule but murderous pathogen of 110 to 130 nanometres in size (a nanometre is a billionth of a metre).
Like other viruses, it dwells furtively, in the realm between living and non-living matter, until contact with a cell occurs.