According to the CDC, “Lassa fever is an acute viral illness that occurs in West Africa. The illness was discovered in 1969 when two missionary nurses died in Nigeria, West Africa. The cause of the illness was found to be Lassa virus, named after the town in Nigeria where the first cases originated.” (Source : CDC Lassa Fever Fact Sheet)
Lassa fever has become a source of morbidity and mortality to the residents in the regions of West Africa where the virus is prevalent. The fever itself does not display significant symptoms and may be mild in majority of the cases. 20% of the individuals affected by this disease have more complex reactions.
Lately in Nigeria, there has been an outbreak of the Lassa fever that is worthy of media coverage because it is spreading at a disturbingly rapid rate. The current death rate of Lassa Fever in Nigeria is at 43.2 percent which is considered an alarming rate by any standard. The Lassa virus is known to be present in significant amounts in rodents and is transferred to humans through several points of contact.
How is Lassa Fever Contracted?
When the infected rodents pass their urine or droppings, the virus is present on the surfaces they defecate on. When humans touch these surfaces, they are very likely to contract the virus. In some parts of Nigeria, where rodents are a delicacy, they can also contract it from consumption of these infected animals. This virus can also be contracted from the air. When humans inhale tiny particles from the rodents excretion, they are also infected. Contaminated equipments used on persons with the virus can be spread to the next person. Exchange of body fluids will also result in contamination.
Symptoms of Lassa Fever
Although the symptoms are mild for most cases, there are still some symptoms to watch out for. This usually occurs in the first three weeks of being in contact with the virus:
- Slight fever
It could also progress into more severe symptoms such as:
- Respiratory challenges
- Chest pain
- Facial swelling
- Hearing loss
Treatment of Lassa Fever
The antiviral drug that has been used to treat this disease in it’s early stages is called Ribavirin. In addition to the anti-viral drug, patients are required to receive additional support in maintaining their fluid levels, blood pressure and general follow-up healthcare.
Prevention of Lassa Fever
There are several ways to prevent Lassa fever in your home, but here are a few tips;
- Keep your home clean and free of rodents.
- For the time being, avoid rodent consumption especially if it is a delicacy in your region.
- Properly cover your food to prevent contact with rodents.
- Use protective clothing like gloves and masks to handle areas where you believe rodents have contacted.
- Fumigate your surroundings.
- Sterilize all your equipments to prevent transmission from person to person.
Armed with the above information, you are better equipped to treat and prevent the spread of the disease.
If you’re a pharmaceutical company, keep in mind that counterfeiters take advantage of these situations by offering false hope to desperate consumers. To prevent the illegal duplication of your products, threat to your patients, and damage of your brand’s reputation, protect your Ribavirin medications with the Sproxil Defender product.
Is the Lassa fever prevalent in your region? How are you dealing with it?