Lassa fever is an acute viral fever caused by the Lassa virus and mostly spread by infected rats. The virus belongs to the Arenaviridae virus family. Lassa fever is spread in humans as they come in contact with the urine or feces of infected rats. Direct contact between people can then spread the disease further. This deadly fever is prevalent in Nigeria and many other countries of West Africa including Liberia, Sierra, Ghana, Leona and Guinea.
Lassa Fever Signs and Symptoms
People infected by the Lassa virus usually do not develop any early signs and symptoms of the deadly Lassa fever. Certain symptoms that can be seen at a later stage include the following:
- Vomiting and Nausea
- Muscle Pain
- Chest Pain
- Low Blood Pressure
In certain cases, the patients may even experience bleeding from the mouth or gastrointestinal tract. However, it is difficult to diagnose the illness based on the symptoms. The patient needs to undergo laboratory tests to detect the disease.
Lassa Fever Prevention
Here are few tips on how to prevent Lassa fever:
- Since the Lassa virus is spread through infected rats, it is suggested to avoid contact with Mastomys rodents.
- Keep the house rodent free by maintaining proper hygiene.
- Trapping the rodents can help reduce their population.
- It is imperative to store food in rodent proof containers.
- Avoid contact with those affected by this deadly fever.
Lassa Fever Treatment
Lassa fever treatment is done by using ribavirin. Ribavirin when given through intravenous is more effective. Thus, the patients infected by Lassa fever are given this medicine via intravenous. Fluid replacement, fighting hypotension and blood transfusion are also required to treat patients suffering from Lassa fever.
No vaccination has yet been developed for this deadly fever. However, scientists and researchers are working on it.
Lassa Fever Cases
From the beginning of January 2017 to the mid of March 2018 as many as 1495 cases of Lassa fever have been registered in Nigeria out of these 119 people have lost their lives battling with this disease. Different states of Nigeria that have been infected with this deadly virus include Anambra, Delta, Ekiti, Imo, Kaduna, Kogi, Bauchi, Benue, Ondo, Osun, Plateau, Ebonyi, Edo, Rivers, Federal Capital Territory, Gombe, Lagos, Nasarawa and Taraba.
Healthcare workers who come in contact with patients suffering from Lassa fever stand a high risk of incurring this disease. Four healthcare workers have died due to this disease since January 2017.