Health FAQs

Best ways to Prevent Lassa Fever in Homes and Hospitals

Best ways to Prevent Lassa Fever-Lassa Fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic fever or illness caused by Lassa virus, a member of the arenavirus species. Lassa Fever has been identified in blood, urine, and pharyngeal secretions.

It was first discovered, isolated, and recognized in January 1969 in the village of Lassa, in Borno state of northern Nigeria when a missionary nurse became ill of the disease.


Reservoir or Host

This multimammate rats,  Mastomys Natalensis is the host of Lassa fever. Mastomys Ntalensis bleed frequently and are distributed widely throughout West, Central, and East Africa.

See Also; Measles: Its Host factors, symptoms and Prevention in Children



How is the Virus Transmitted?

  • It is important to note that the virus is transmitted to humans from contacts with food or household rodents excreta (urine, feaces) saliva.
  • The rodent virus is initially transmitted through skin abrasions (cuts or sores) and later spread from man to man since the virus has been isolated from blood, urine, and pharynx of patients.
  • The Lassa Fever virus infection may be spread through;
  • Air-borne (dust) transmission, accidental inoculation, and mechanical transmissions
  • Mastomys rodents are sometimes consumed as food. Infection may
    occur through direct contact when they are caught and prepared as
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Epidemiology of Lassa Fever

It is an endemic zoonotic disease in Nigeria with a probability of nosocomial (Pertaining to or acquired in the hospital) infection as a result of several health care sector challenges. The incubation period is between 5 to 21 or 1to 3 weeks following infection.

However, it is also known as viral hemorrhagic fever, because it is a disease following bleeding and fever. Since, the discovery of the viral infection, there has been outbreaks of varying intensity. The disease is associated with a high case fatality rate of over 50%. Pregnant women could be prone to more severity of Lassa fever.



Signs and Symptoms of Lassa Fever Virus

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat
  • Severe Chest pain
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Maculopapular rash
  • Bp changes (sudden Hypotension)
  • Swollen neck, face,
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Epigastric pain
  • Mucosal bleeding from the mouth, Nose, Vainal or GIT
    Lethargy (a condition of drowsiness or stupor)
  • Neurological problems have also been described including hearing
    loss, tremors, and encephalitis
  • In severe cases, death usually occurs in the second or third week
    of the acute illness resulting from hemorrhagic shock and
    cardiac failure or vascular collapse
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How can it be Diagnosed?

Diagnosis is by viral isolation from blood, urine or throat washing of patients and serologically by Immuno-fluorescent assay during the acute stage


People at High Risk

  • Hospital workers are at risk of exposure and outbreaks in hospitals have usually carried a high mortality rate.
  • Not seasonal, yearly, or age incidence or variation has been shown by the disease in areas where it occurred. Peak incidence was thought to be the dry season (January to March) but
    data collected in Sierra Leone shows peaks in the overlap with
    the wet season (May to November)
  • The virus is excreted in the urine for 3-9 weeks from infection and in
    semen for 3 months after infection, but we do not know-how
    frequently it may be transmitted through intercourse.
  • Persons at greater risk are those living in areas of poor sanitation or crowded living conditions.


Prevention of Lassa Fever

  • Products suspected of Lassa fever should be admitted, strictly isolated and barrier nursed. In addition, all excreta, secretion fluids and fomites from the patient should be properly discarded laboratory specimens are hazardous and should be handled by experts.
  • Protection from rats that may infect man through strict personal and communal hygiene. This effort will help to control the rat population around the house.
  • Rodent contact with food should be prevented by proper storage of
    food items. This is to ensure that no food exposed to rodents
    since the urine and body fluid of rodents are the key things which
    cause Lassa fever transmission
  • Lassa fever should be notified immediately to be the appropriate
    authority for prompt action.
  • Health education on its eradication should be encouraged in both
    rural and urban areas.
  • Surveillance of high-risk contacts or exposed individuals. High-risk contacts should be identified and kept under active surveillance. A person is known to have been exposed to be Lassa virus
    e.g through needle stick injury should be given some prophylactics.
  • Those people who eat rat should be discovered because transmission could happen when it is being prepared. Just like eating bats and bush meat was discovered during the ebola period, people should best ways to Prevent Lassa Fever and avoid contact with rats and cover their food very well.
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Complications of Lassa Fever

  • Sensorineural deafness or hearing loss
  • Peripheral vasoconstriction
  • Hypovolemia
  • Spontaneous abortion
  • Anuria
  • Death



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