What Is Lassa fever? 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 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.
The disease, which is common in some 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 virus can be spread through direct contact with infected human blood excretions and secretions, including through sexual contact. No evidence of airborne transmission from person-to-person has been recorded yet. 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.
- Direct contact with rats
- If a rat eats your grain or other food the virus could be transferred to the food.
- It may also spread through person-to-person contact when a person is exposed to the 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
- Stomach ache
- Swollen airways
How to diagnose Lassa fever
Lassa virus can be diagnosed by doing a laboratory test in a test center and it can be diagnosed in three ways:
- Isolating the virus from blood, urine, or throat washings.
- Demonstrating the presence of immunoglobuline M (IgM) antibody to Lassa virus.
- Showing a fourfold rise in titer of IgG antibody between acute- and convalescent-phase serums.
How to Prevent Lassa fever
Lassa fever can be prevented by doing the followings
- 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
- Avoid contact between rats and human beings
- Isolating infected patients from contact with unprotected persons until the disease has run its course
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
Lassa fever Home Remedies/Home Cure
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.