Lassa Fever is the latest wide spread epidermic that is ravaging across Nigerian States.
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Lassa Fever is a fatal virus also known as Lassa hemorrhagic fever (LHF) . It is an acute viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus.
According to reports, Lassa virus was first discovered in 1969 in the town of Lassa, in Borno State, Nigeria.
The disease is said to incubate in the body for six to twenty-one days, before an illness that affects vital organs occurs.
So far more than 40 lives have been lost as a result of the emergence of the disease in Nigeria.
Causes Of Lassa Fever
The risk of contracting this virus is high especially in areas of high population of rodents that are infected with the lassa virus and also infected humans.
It is important to know the root of this fatal virus that is fast spreading in the country.
The main cause of Lassa virus is a rodent known as the Multimammate Rat of the genus Mastomys.
These Mastomys rodents breed very frequently and are known to be more prominent in the savannas and forests of West, Central, and East Africa.
These rodents are mostly known to be found in homes and hence the spread of the virus to humans easily.
The Mastomys rodents drop the virus in.
How Is Lassa Fever Contracted By Humans ?
The virus is transmitted to humans via objects and food contaminated with the virus, or direct contact with the feaces and urine of an infected rat / rodent.
It can also be transmitted person-to-person through contact with secretions and excretions of someone who is infected.
Through cuts or sores.
It may also spread through person-to-person contact when a person comes into contact with virus in the blood, tissue, secretions, or excretions of an individual infected with the Lassa virus.
Contact with the virus occurs when a person inhales tiny particles in the air contaminated with rodent excretions.
All these factors together contribute to the relatively efficient spread of Lassa virus from infected rodents to humans.
Symptoms and Signs of Lassa Fever
It is highly important to be note that the signs and symptoms occur within 1 – 3 weeks after patient has contracted the virus.
The following will help you to recognize the symptoms of Lassa fever, and understand how it is treated.
Minimal and Frequent Symptoms
9.Mucosal Bleeding in (nose, mouth, lungs, and digestive tract)
12 Hearing loss.
Where it becomes a severe case, the symptoms can include
1. Encephalopathy :infection/inflammation of the brain
4. Pleural Effusion
6. Swelling of Face and Neck
7. respiratory distress
8. Neurological problems have also been described, including hearing loss, tremors, and encephalitis
Death may occur within two weeks after symptom onset due to multi-organ failure.
Most infections can escape un-diagnosed and some might have mild fever which may be taken for granted.
The most common complication of Lassa fever is deafness. Various degrees of deafness occur in approximately one-third of infections, and in many cases hearing loss is permanent.
Approximately 15% of hospitalized patients die. The disease is more severe in pregnancy, and fetal loss occurs in greater than 80% of cases.
Prevention Of Lassa Fever
Do you know that Approximately 15%-20% of patients hospitalized for Lassa fever die from the illness. However, only 1% of all Lassa virus infections result in death.
The death rates for women in the third trimester of pregnancy are particularly high.
Spontaneous abortion is a serious complication of infection with an estimated 95% mortality in fetuses of infected pregnant mothers.
Lassa fever is also associated with occasional epidemics, during which the case-fatality rate can reach 50% in hospitalized patients.
With the spread and ease of transfer Lassa Fever , there are several ways it can be prevented.
1.Trapping in and around homes can help reduce rodent populations.
2.Prevent and avoid rodents living in your homes and surroundings.
3.Keep your house and Environment clean so as to help to discourage rodents from entering homes.
4. Cover all foods and water properly, Store foodstuffs in rodent proof containers
5. Cook all foods thoroughly
6. Block all rat hideout
7. If you suspect that rat has eaten any food, discard it
8. Stop eating and consumption of Rats
9.Keep cats away
When caring for infected persons , careful measures should be observed so as to avoid person-to-person contact. Measures such as ;
1.wearing protective clothing, such as masks, gloves, gowns, and goggles
2.using infection control measures, such as complete equipment sterilization;
3. isolating infected patients from contact with unprotected persons until the disease has run its course.
4. Awareness and educating people who live in high-risk areas about concern and effects of this virus.
5.The availability of the only known drug treatment, ribavirin should be increased
6.Isolating infected patients from contact with unprotected persons until the disease has run its course.
Treatment Of Lassa Fever
Ribavirin, an antiviral drug, has been given to the success in Lassa fever patients. It has been shown to be most effective when given early in the course of the illness.
Death occurs in 15-20% of hospitalized patients.
The death rates are particularly high for women in the third trimester of pregnancy, and for fetuses, about 95% of which die in the uterus of infected pregnant mothers.
If left untreated, the mortality rate approaches 50%.
Patients should also receive supportive care consisting of maintenance of appropriate fluid and electrolyte balance, oxygenation and blood pressure, as well as treatment of any other complicating infections.