Friday, January 15

Things you should know about the deadly Lassa Fever: Causes, symptoms and preventive measures

Lassa fever also known as Lassa hemorrhagic fever (LHF) is an acute viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus. Reports say the virus was first discovered in 1969 in the town of Lassa, in Borno State. The disease is said to incubate in the body for six to twenty-one days, before an illness that affects vital organs occurs. About 40 lives have been lost as a result of the emergence of the disease in Nigeria.


The main cause of Lassa virus is a rodent known as the Multimammate Rat of the genus Mastomys but it is not sure that which species of Mastomys are associated with Lassa fever.

There are a number of ways in which the virus may be transmitted, or spread, to humans:
  • The Mastomys rodents drop the virus in urine and compost. The virus can be transmitted through direct contact with these materials. 
  • Through touching objects or eating contaminated food
  • Through cuts or sores, the virus transmitted in the human body
  • It may also spread through person-to-person contact when a person comes into contact with virus in the blood, tissue, secretions, or excretions of an individual infected with the Lassa virus.
  • Contact with the virus occurs when a person inhales tiny particles in the air contaminated with rodent excretions

All these factors together contribute to the relatively efficient spread of Lassa virus from infected rodents to humans.

The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole recently revealed that the disease has been recorded in 10 states across Nigeria. On Thursday, January 14, 2016, another death was recorded in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

The symptoms of the Lassa Fever include:
  1. Abdominal Pain
  2. Back Pain
  3. Chest Pain
  4. Conjunctivitis
  5. Cough
  6. Diarrhea
  7. Facial Swelling
  8. Fever
  9. Mucosal Bleeding
  10. Sore Throat
  11. Vomiting

  • Isolating infected patients from contact with unprotected persons until the disease has run its course.
  • Putting food away in rodent-proof containers and keeping the home clean help to discourage rodents from entering homes.
  • Transmission of the Lassa virus from rodent to humans can be prevented by avoiding contact with Mastomys rodents
  • Trapping in and around homes can help reduce rodent populations.
  • Using infection control measures, such as complete equipment sterilization;
  • Wearing protective clothing, such as Masks, gloves, gowns, and goggles
  • When caring for patients with Lassa fever, further transmission of the disease through person-to-person contact can be avoided by taking preventive precautions against contact with patient secretions.
In a statement issued by the minister of health, he advised the people to maintain high level of vigilance and present themselves for test if they feel unhealthy or they feel symptoms of Lassa fever, adding that self-medication should be avoided at this period.

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