What you should Know about Lassa Fever

By Kangpe Healthcare
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Lassa Fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic infection associated with persistent high fever. This Acute disease is caused by the Lassa virus belonging to the arenavirus family (this group of viruses infect rodents and occasionally humans).

Lassa Fever was first described in the 1950s and the virus was isolated in 1969 in Lassa, Nigeria. It occurs more often in the dry season, rather than in the rainy season.

About 15–20% of hospitalized Lassa fever patients will die from the illness. The death rates are particularly high for women in the third trimester of pregnancy, and for fetuses, about 95% of which die in the uterus of infected pregnant mothers.

The latest resurgence of Lassa Fever has seen cases reported in parts of parts of Ebonyi, Edo, Nassarawa, Ondo, Bauchi and Lagos state.
Healthcare practitioners strongly advice good hygiene for preventing the infection and vigilance in spotting its symptoms.

Transmission of Lassa Fever:
Humans usually become infected with Lassa virus from exposure to excreta of infected rat.
Lassa virus can also be transmitted between humans through direct contact with the blood, urine, faeces, or other bodily fluids of a person with Lassa Fever. Sexual transmission of Lassa virus has also been reported.
Incubation Period is usually about 10 days but can range from 6-21 days.

Symptoms of Lassa Fever:
The illness usually starts with fever, general weakness and malaise. Other signs and symptoms are; a headache, sore throat, pain behind the breastbone, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, cough, abdominal pain and red spots. The symptoms take up to three weeks to manifest and are so mild as to be ignored in about 80% of cases.
In severe cases, it may progress to swollen face, bleeding (from mouth, nose and vagina), gastrointestinal tract and low blood pressure. Death may occur within two weeks in seriously sick patients. This is due to the failure of multiple organs.
The onset of the disease is usually gradual, starting with fever, general weakness, and malaise followed by headache, sore throat, muscle pain, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, cough, and bleeding from mouth, nose, vagina or gastrointestinal tract, and low blood pressure.

As soon as you suspect Lassa fever or you have persistent fever not responding to the standard treatment for malaria and typhoid, report to the nearest health facility.

How to Prevent Lassa Fever
• Discard any food parts eaten by rats.
• Avoid any physical contact with rats
• Keep your house and environment clean.
• Avoid physical contact with anyone showing symptoms of the infection.
• Cover food and water properly.
• Wash your hands regularly and/or make use of hand sanitizing gel
• Cook all foods thoroughly.
• Avoid contact with the bodily fluids of infected persons
• Block all rat hideouts.

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Published Monday, January 22nd 2018

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