Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What Lassa fever is All About.

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It is an acute viral infection associated with persistent high fever caused by Lassa Virus. It was discovered first in Lassa, Borno State, Nigeria in 1969. However, it can be found in other places, especially in West Africa e.g. Liberia, Guinea and Seirra Leone. People become infected by eating infected bush rat or eating food contaminated with the rat excreta/urine deposited on surfaces such as floors, beds, household utensils or in food and water (e.g. grains spread out to dry along the roads by farmers). Person to person spread also occurs by direct contact or inhalation of infected body fluids such as blood, urine, saliva, throat secretions etc..


The illness usually starts with fever, general weakness and malaise. Other signs and symptoms are headache, sore throat, pain behind the breast bone, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cough, abdominal pain and red spots. In severe cases, it may progress to swollen face, bleeding (from mouth, nose, and vagina), gastrointestinal tract and low blood pressure.


  • Avoid contact between rats and human beings;
  • Keep your house and Environmnt clean.
  • Cover all foods and water properly.
  • Cover all foods and water properly.
  • Cook all foods thoroughly
  • Block all rat hideouts
  • Do not spread food where rats can have access to it.
  • And as soon as you suspect Lassa fever, or you have persistent fever not responding to the standard treatment for malaria and typhoid, report to the nearest Health facility.
Treatment.  For adults, ribavirin:  2-gm loading dose, followed by 1 gm every 6 hours for 4 days;  followed by 0.5 gm every 8 hours for 6 days.  There is no treatment for the deafness (which resembles idiopathic nerve disease) associated with Lassa fever.  Antibiotics may also be administered to patients to ward off or treat secondary and/or opportunistic bacterial infections.
Severely ill patients may receive treatment before the diganosis is confirmed.
Currently, there is no effective prophylactic treatment for Lassa fever.  However, some sources recommend prophylactic doses of Ribavirin for people coming in high-risk contact with viremic patients.

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