Lassa Fever Signs and Symptoms, preventive measures
Lassa Fever Signs and Symptoms, preventive measures
Monday Mar 12, 2018

Lassa fever is a highly contagious disease most commonly transmitted from rodents to humans. Lassa fever which belongs to the family called Avrenaviridae, has been causing havoc in West Africa in similar areas as Ebola virus.  First identified in 1969 in Nigeria, the virus is transmitted to humans via contact with food or household items contaminated with urine or faeces of an infected rat.

The Lassa virus can be spread between humans through direct contact with blood, urine, faeces, or other bodily secretions of a person infected with Lassa fever. The incubation period for Lassa fever varies from 6 – 21 days.

The number of Lassa virus infections per year in west Africa is estimated at 100,000 to 300,000, with approximately 5,000 casualties. 

Signs and Symptoms

Lassa fever occurs in all age groups and both sexes. Signs and symptoms of Lassa fever generaly appear 1-3 weeks after the patient comes into contact with the virus.

The World Health Organisation says the onset of the disease, when it is symptomatic, is usually gradual, starting with fever, general weakness and malaise. Other symptoms including 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.

How to diagnose Lassa fever

Lassa virus is diagnosed by doing a laboratory test in a test centre. 

 1.  Isolating the virus from blood, urine, or throat washings.
 2.  Demonstrating the presence of immunoglobuline M (IgM) antibody to Lassa virus.
 3.  Showing a fourfold rise in titer of IgG antibody between acute- and convalescent-phase serums.

Vaccine or Cure ?

There is no vaccine currently available for Lassa fever, but the disease can be prevented and is treatable.

Prevention of Lassa fever

Lassa fever is strongly linked to poor hygiene and sanitation.  Store food in rodent-proof containers and use dustbins and refuse containers with covers. If you suspect that rat has eaten any food, discard it. Garbage should be disposed properly and far from the home. Keep your house and Environment clean.

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