What you need to know about Lassa fever

Lassa fever also known as Lassa hemorrhagic fever (LHF), is a member of the Arenaviridae virus family.  Tt is an acute viral hemorrhagic fever that was first discovered in Lassa, Borno State, Nigeria in 1969.

Animals transmit the virus and the multi-mammate mice is the primary host of the Lassa virus. The virus is transmitted by contact with the feces and urine of the animal.

Eaten as “Bush meat” in West Africa, the disease can be contacted when someone is preparing the meal. The disease can also be transmitted via contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person.

Lassa fever infects more than 500,000 people annually and there have been reported cases in Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and the Central African Republic.

The incubation period of the disease is from six to twenty-one days.

Lassa fever does not present symptoms in 80 % of infected people but for the infected 20% that shows symptoms of the disease it can prove fatal.

Symptoms of the disease include fever, swelling of the face, fatigue, red eyes and bleeding from the nose and mouth.

Other symptoms of the disease include vomiting, diarrhea, chest pain, abdominal pain and seizures.

Due to its symptoms it is similar to other viral hemorrhagic fevers including the Ebola virus.

You can prevent getting infected with the Lassa Virus by practicing good personal hygiene.

Limit your exposure to rodents by emptying refuse far away from living quarters, keep stored food in sealed containers and eliminate all rodents from your living quarters.

If you suspect that you have Lassa Fever seek medical attention immediately.

There are some effective treatment options available to treat Lassa fever such as the Ribavirin drug.

Early detection of the disease is key to surviving the disease.

Lassa Fever is especially harmful to pregnant women because the virus tends to gravitate towards the placenta feeding the baby. So inducing the pregnant woman is often the first course of action.

Photo by bigjom. Published on 31 March 2011
Stock photo – Image ID: 10036253

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