Lassa Fever: facts file - THE NEW DAWN ONLINE

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Lassa Fever: facts file

Lassa fever or Lassa hemorrhagic fever (LHF ) is an acute viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus and first described in 1969 in the town of Lassa, in Borno State, Nigeria.

The Lassa virus is transmitted to humans via contact with food or household items contaminated with rodent urine or faeces.

Person-to-person infections and laboratory
transmission can also occur, particularly in hospitals lacking adequate infection prevent and control measures.

Lassa fever is a member of the Arenaviridae virus family. Similar to ebola, clinical cases of the disease had been known for over a decade, but had not been connected with a viral pathogen.

The incubation period of Lassa fever ranges from 6-21days.

Symptoms starts with fever, general weakness, and malaise. After a few days, headache, sore throat, muscle pain, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, cough, and abdominal pain may follow. In severe cases facial swelling, fluid in the lung cavity, bleeding from the mouth, nose, vagina or gastrointestinal tract and low blood pressure may develop.

An antiviral drug, Ribavirin is the only medicine known to cure the virus in the early stage; no vaccine that protects against Lassa fever yet.

Prevention of Lassa fever relies on promoting good “community hygiene” to discourage rodents from entering homes. 

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