Lassa fever according to Centers for disease control and prevention, CDC, is an animal-borne, or zoonotic, acute viral illness. It is endemic in parts of West Africa including Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria. Neighbouring countries are also at risk, as the animal vector for Lassa virus, the “multimammate rat” (Mastomys natalensis) is distributed throughout the region.
The illness was discovered in 1969 and is named after the town in Nigeria where the first cases occurred.
There is an outbreak of Lassa fever in Nigeria. About 84 cases including 15 deaths have been reported in Ondo state. It is important to know key facts about Lassa fever to prevent you from being a victim.
- Lassa Hemorrhagic Fever, popularly known as Lassa fever is a viral hemorrhagic (bleeding) disease, caused by Lassa Virus. It is a very deadly disease
- A certain species of rats are the known reservoirs of this virus so the virus is transmitted through ingestion of food contaminated with faeces or urine of such rats. Also, transmission can be through contact with persons infected with the virus or contact with their body secretions such as blood, urine or faeces.
- The signs and symptoms occur between two and twenty-one days of infection with the virus.
- Signs and symptoms you should watch out for include; fever, general weakness, headache followed by sore throat, vomiting, diarrhoea, cough occurring a few days after the initial symptoms.
- The disease can progress to more fatal symptoms such as bleeding from the gum, nose or any part of the body, facial swelling, abdominal, back and chest pain.
- Death may occur within two weeks after the symptoms have occurred. Once you experience any of these symptoms, report to the nearest hospital as early treatment can confer cure
- This disease can be prevented from avoiding contact with such rats. This can be achieved by storing food in rodent-proof containers, good hygiene in the home.
- Also, avoid contact with persons with the above symptoms as they are suspected to have the disease.