Tuesday, January 12, 2016


There has been an outbreak of Lassa fever in the country, the federal government may soon have no option but to declare an emergency to hasten containment. According to reports, the states affected include Bauchi, Nassarawa, Niger, Taraba, Kano, Rivers, Edo, Plateau, Gombe and Oyo. The total number
reported so far is 81 and 35 deaths, with a mortality rate of 43.2 per cent, a rate considered very high by all standards.

Here are 10 main facts you need to know about the Virus 

1. Lassa fever was first discovered in 1969 when two missionary nurses died in Borno, Nigeria. The virus is named after the town in Nigeria where the first cases occurred.

2. Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness duration that occurs mainly in West Africa and is a member of the Arenaviridae virus family.

 3. Lassa fever is a zoonotic disease and is spread through the Mastomys rodent.Mastomys rats infected with Lassa virus do not become ill, but they can shed the virus in their urine and faeces. 

4. Humans usually become infected with Lassa virus from exposure to urine or faeces of infected Mastomys rats.Lassa virus may also be spread between humans through direct contact with the blood, urine, faeces, or other bodily secretions of a person infected with Lassa fever.

5. The incubation period of Lassa fever ranges from 6-21 days and symptoms include high fever, vomiting, back pain, and bleeding.Death usually occurs within 14 days of onset in fatal cases. 

6. About 80% of people who become infected with Lassa virus have no symptoms but the other 20% of the time symptoms are gruesome.

 7. Lassa fever is difficult to distinguish from other viral haemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola virus disease; and many other diseases that cause fever, including malaria, shigellosis, typhoid fever and yellow fever thereby leading to incorrect diagnosis.

 8. Deafness occurs in 25% of patients who survive the disease. In half of these cases, hearing returns partially after 1-3 months.

 9. Prevention of Lassa fever include storing grain and other foodstuffs in rodent-proof containers, maintaining clean households and keeping cats. Family members should always be careful to avoid contact with blood and body fluids while caring for sick persons.Health workers caring for patients with suspected or confirmed Lassa fever should apply extra infection control measures to prevent contact with the patient’s blood and body fluids and contaminated surfaces or materials such as clothing and bedding.

 10. There is currently no cure for Lassa fever and the only available drug, Ribavirin, is only effective if administered early in infection (within the first 6 days after disease onset).

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