For those of you who haven’t heard about Lassa fever it is a hemorrhagic viral fever that has caused hundreds of deaths in the past few months. The governments of all the countries experiencing the outbreak are taking measures to control the outbreak and spread of the virus.
Here are 5 things you need to know about Lassa fever:
1) Lassa is deadly like Ebola
Ebola and Lassa have so many things in common including, mode of transmission, symptoms, and origin.
Lassa fever is a zoonotic disease, which means that humans become infected from contact with infected animals,which are mainly rats.
Lassa is deadly and is estimated to kill 5,000 people in Africa every year.
Lassa fever can be transmitted via sexual intercourse with infected persons. It is usually contracted from exposure to urine or feces of infected rats. It may also be spread between humans through direct contact with the blood, urine, feces, or other bodily secretions of an infected person.
People who live in unsanitary conditions are at a higher risk of contracting the disease.
It is largely asymptomatic wherein the infected patient experiences no symptoms at all.The good news is that for most asymptomatic patients the disease may “die a natural death” or eventually show up symptoms which must be combated immediately.
Signs and symptoms of Lassa fever usuallyoccur one to three weeks after the patient comes into contact with the virus.Mild symptoms include slight fever, general malaise and weakness, and headache.
In a rare 20% of infected individuals the disease may progress to more serious symptoms that include hemorrhaging, respiratory distress, repeated vomiting, facial swelling, pain in the chest, back, and abdomen, and shock.
Death may occur within two weeks after symptom onset due to multi-organ failure.
4) Lassa has no cure
Lassa fever has no cure. But in the early stages the antiviral drug ribavirin is found to be successful in the early stages of the disease.
Long with ribavirin, maintenance of appropriate fluid and electrolyte balance, oxygenation and blood pressure as well as treatment of any other complicating infections becomes essential.
5) Lassa can be prevented
Prevention of Lassa fever is possible. The key to prevention is to maintain good hygiene standards, keeping rats and cats away. People should be careful to avoid contact with blood and body fluids while caring for sick persons.