What You Need to Know About the Lassa Fever

As Nigeria still celebrate overcoming the deadly Ebola virus, another disease has broken out. Lassa fever also known as Lassa Hemorrhagic Fever (LHF) is an acute viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus. The virus which was first described in Borno, Northeast Nigeria has been  known clinically for over a decade, but had not been connected with a viral pathogen. Lassa virus is transmitted by rodents (mouse or rat). The virus is probably transmitted by contact with the faeces or urine of animals accessing grain stores in residences.

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While most humans are infected either from contact with an infected rat or inhalation of air contaminated with rat excretions, like other hemorrhagic fevers , Lassa fever can be transmitted directly from one human to another. It can be contracted through direct contact with infected human blood excretions and secretions, including through sexual contact. No evidence of airborne transmission person-to-person is seen. Transmission through breast milk has also been observed.

Common Symptoms of the Lassa Fever
• Nausea
• Vomiting (with blood)
• Diarrhea (with blood)
• Stomach pain
• Constipation
• Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
• Hepatitis
• Cough
• Chest pain
• Seizures

Lassa fever infections are difficult to distinguish from other viral hemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola and Marburg, and from more common febrile illnesses such as malaria.

Curbing the Lassa Fever

The most effective way to curb the Lassa Fever is to prevent its spread by rats. Keeping rats out of the house and food supplies can be achieved by maintaining effective personal and environmental hygiene. The biological method of using cats to eat up rats may not be advisable as the effect of the virus on cats may be far worst and the spread rapid. Health workers attending to infected persons should be properly covered to avoid contact with any body fluid.

As of the moment, there is no known cure to the Lassa Fever.

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