THE CHRONICLE OF LASSA FEVER
Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness of 2-21 days duration that occurs in West Africa.
The Lassa virus is transmitted to humans via contact with food or household items contaminated with rodent urine or faeces.
Person-to-person infections and laboratory transmission can also occur, particularly in hospitals lacking adequate infection prevention and control measures.
Lassa fever is known to be endemic in Benin, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria, but probably exists in other West African countries as well.
The overall case-fatality rate is 1%. Observed case-fatality rate among patients hospitalized with severe cases of Lassa fever is 15%.
Early supportive care with rehydration and symptomatic treatment improves survival.
Though first described in the 1950s, the virus causing Lassa disease was not identified until 1969. The virus is a single-stranded RNA virus belonging to the virus family Arenaviridae.
About 80% of people who become infected with Lassa virus have no symptoms. 1 in 5 infections result in severe disease, where the virus affects several organs such as the liver, spleen and kidneys.
Lassa fever is a zoonotic disease, meaning that humans become infected from contact with infected animals. The animal reservoir, or host, of Lassa virus is a rodent of the genus Mastomys, commonly known as the multimammate rat. Mastomys rats infected with Lassa virus do not become ill, but they can transmit the virus through thier urin to food materials which canbintirn affects humans.
LASSA FEVER IN NIGERIA
The outbreak of the virus in nigeria became worst last year when it claimed lives amounting to 20-30 in the south western part of the country. As a witness (volunteering with the Nigerian red cross society) it occures to me that most people do not know how and the means through which the virus spreads.