What is Lassa fever?
Is an acute and often fatal viral disease, with fever, occurring mainly in West Africa. It is usually acquired from infected rats. The illness was discovered in 1969 when two missionary nurses died in Nigeria. The virus is named after the town in Nigeria where the first cases occurred. Lassa fever occurs more often in the dry season, rather than in the rainy season. It is the most commonly "exported" hemorrhagic fever.
Parts of West Africa, including Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Liberia. However, sporadic Lassa infections may have also occurred in Senegal and Mali. 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.
Causes Lassa fever
The main cause of Lassa virus is a rodent known as the Multimammate Rat of the genus Mastomys but it is not sure that which species of Mastomys are associated with Lassa fever.
* Avoid direct contact with rats
* If rat eat your grain or other food the virus could transfer to the food.
* It may also spread through person-to-person contact when a person comes into contact with virus in the blood, tissue, secretions, or excretions of an individual infected with the Lassa virus.
Symptoms/Signs of Lassa fever
· Abdominal Pain
· Back Pain
· Chest Pain
· Facial Swelling
· Mucosal Bleeding
· Sore Throat
How to diagnose Lassa fever
Lassa virus can be diagnosed in three ways:
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.
How to Prevent Lassa fever
Avoid contact between rats and human beings
Isolating infected patients from contact with unprotected persons until the disease has run its course
- Block all rat hideouts
- Cook all foods thoroughly
- Cover all foods and water properly.
- If you suspect that rat has eaten any food, discard it
- Keep your house and Environment clean
- Store foodstuffs in rodent proof containers
- Transmission of the Lassa virus from rodent to humans can be prevented by avoiding contact with Mastomys rodents(The rat that causes Lassa fever).
- Wearing protective clothing, such as Masks, gloves, gowns, and Glasses
And as soon as you suspect Lassa fever, or you have persistent fever not responding to the normal/common treatment for malaria and typhoid, report to the nearest Health facility.
Treatment for Lassa Fever
Ribavirin, is an antiviral drug that has been used with success in people affected by Lassa fever. It has been shown to be most effective when it is administered early in the course of the illness. People should also receive supportive care that consists of maintenance of:
- Blood pressure
- Treatment of complicating infections
- Appropriate fluid and electrolyte balance
When contacted see your Doctor/Specialist immediately, for now there is no tested home remedy, but you can use the one for hepatitis b, pending the time that you see your doctor.