Wednesday, 29 February 2012

LASSA fever - what really is it?

The past few months have been filled with rumours, coupled with enlightenment about what is called the 'Lassa fever'.

Of recent, some states, Ogun State (Nigeria) inclusive declaimed claims of recording the deadly fever.
Lassa fever is an acute viral infection associated with persistent high fever caused by the 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.

HOW IS IT SPREAD?
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 (eg. 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 secretion etc..

WHO CAN BE INFECTED?
All age groups. Persons at greater risk are those in areas of poor sanitation and health workers managing such cases.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS?
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.

HOW CAN LASSA FEVER BE PREVENTED?
Avoid contact between rats and human beings;
Keep your house and Environment clean.
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 OF SUSPECTED CASES
Early treatment with Oral Ribavirin is recommended. In severe infection, injection of Ribavirin is used. Barrier nursing is highly recommended.

PLEASE SHARE THIS INFORMATION WITH OTHERS.

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