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Lassa Fever: 11 Things You Need To Know About The Killer Disease

A nursing mother and her two weeks baby died between Wednesday, December 30, 2015, and January 1, 2016, from the contagious disease in Rivers and now, over 60 people have been placed under surveillance following the outbreak of lassa fever in the State. The FG has put the number of reported cases of Lassa Fever in the most recent outbreak in eight states (Bauchi, Nasarawa, Niger, Taraba, Kano, Rivers, Edo and Oyo states) at 76 with 35 deaths already recorded and 14 cases confirmed by laboratories. In order enlighten our esteem readers about this deadly disease, here are 11 things you should about the disease…

– Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness caused by Lassa virus and it is transmitted to humans from contacts with food or household items contaminated with rodent excreta.

– Lassa frequently infects people in West Africa as it results in 300,000 to 500,000 cases annually and causes about 5,000 deaths each year.

– The primary animal host of the Lassa virus is the Natal multimammate mouse, an animal mostly found in sub Saharan Africa.

– After an incubation period of six to 21 days, an acute illness with multiorgan involvement develops as it affects  several organs such as the liver, spleen and kidneys.

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– Nonspecific symptoms include fever, facial swelling, and muscle fatigue, as well as conjunctivitis and mucosal bleeding.

– Lassa virus is zoonotic, that is, it is transmitted from animals, in that it spreads to humans from rodents, specifically multimammate rats.

– Infection in humans typically occurs by exposure to animal excrement through the respiratory or gastrointestinal tracts.

– Transmission from person to person has also been established, presenting a disease risk for healthcare workers.

– Ensure to keep rodents out of homes and food supplies, as well as maintaining effective personal hygiene. Store grain and other foodstuffs in rodent-proof containers, disposing of garbage far from the home and maintaining clean households

– All persons suspected of Lassa fever infection should be admitted to isolation facilities and their body fluids and excreta properly disposed of.

– The overall mortality rate is estimated to be 1%, but during epidemics, mortality can climb as high as 50%.

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