Lassa Fever: Fact Sheets, Signs and Symptoms

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Credit: Huffington Post
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Lassa Fever Threat

With the daily rise in the toll of patients being lost to Lassa fever and the increasing population of in-patients especially in the Western part of Africa, it therefore becomes expedient for the entire populace to have simple first-hand information about this deadly but preventable and curable disease.

Lassa fever is a severe, often fatal hemorrhagic illness – a viral infection associated with profuse bleeding.) . Caused by a virus whose host is a multi-mammate rat (A rat specie with many breasts) commonly found around residential areas. The virus was first discovered in 1969 in a village called Lassa in Borno state, Nigeria and has been discovered to be endemic to West Africa region particularly Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Mali and Nigeria

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Here is why you cannot take this disease for granted!!!

It is easily transmitted through contact with the blood, urine and faeces of one of man’s closest companion- a specie of rat with many breasts.

The easy mode of transmission gives man away rather too quickly; direct contact with waste products from the organism, or its blood, contact with body secretions from an infected person- including sexual contact! Researches record that the virus is eliminated in the urine for three weeks and in the semen for about 3 months.

The symptoms are not even diagnostic. Similar in every regard to symptoms malaria, one is likely to wave it off until its real advanced stage. More often than not, it is even asymptomatic until this stage

Symptoms when presented range from headache to fever to malaise after a few days, may be followed by sore throat. After a few days, some patients will proceed to edema, hypertension, bleeding through body orifices and shock.

Only a definitive diagnostic test confirms the presence of the virus in the body. Be proactive!

Recovery from advanced stages of the virus often leaves victim with a hearing impairment, in some cases permanent deafness has been recorded.

Presently there are no marketable vaccines available for use in Lassa endemic area! Prevention has to be done consciously by individuals!!

The chances of spread are greater than 80% in a household except strict barrier measures are put in place.

drug for lassa feverWhat’s worse! Only one drug is available for the combat of the illness – Ribavirin. The expensive price of which makes it almost unavailable except in designated hospitals and centers.

So, why put oneself in the danger of uncertainty when simple measures can be taken to prevent this illness.

Prevention is this simple….

Proper hygiene measures;

Keep food and drinks properly covered, avoid refuse dumping near residential areas, proper cleaning of cooking utensils before meals, deliberate elimination of rodents from the house.

Strict barrier measures;

This is especially necessary for health practitioners and care-takers of infected persons. Measures such as adequate protective covering, proper preventive measures, a deliberate quarantine provisions should be put to place.

Save our Soul!! lassa fever virus

Prompt action can save a life. If you are resident in Nigeria and suspect this fever in any one please drop a Save Our Soul call to any of these numbers at the Federal Ministry of Health; 080093810105, 08163215251, 08031571667, 08135050005.

 

 

 

Reference.

  1. Federal Ministry of Health Abuja
  2. Lassa fever. Wikipedia
  3. Lassa fever   W.H.O. Fact file.
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