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After COVID, Lassa fever creates havoc. Know its symptoms, causes and treatment

In 20 per cent of infected individuals, the Lassa fever may progress to more serious symptoms including bleeding, breathing difficulty, repeated vomiting, facial swelling, haemorrhaging (in gums, eyes, or nose), pain in the chest, back, and abdomen. Neurological problems including hearing loss, tremors, and encephalitis are also been described.

Health Desk Written by: Health Desk New Delhi Updated on: February 15, 2022 14:58 IST
Lassa Fever
Image Source : FREEPIK

Lassa Fever: symptoms, causes and treatment

Highlights

  • Three people in United Kingdom were recently diagnosed with Lassa fever
  • Lassa fever is endemic in the rodent population in parts of West Africa
  • The symptoms of Lassa fever typically appear 1-3 weeks after exposure

As we continue to deal with the ongoing COVID pandemic, three people in the United Kingdom were recently diagnosed with Lassa fever. Out of the three, one died. According to WHO, Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness caused by the Lassa virus, a member of the arenavirus, that lasts between two and 21 days. People usually become infected with this virus through exposure to food or household items contaminated with urine or faeces of infected rats. The Lassa virus is named after a town in Nigeria where the first cases were detected in 1969. 

Lassa fever is endemic in the rodent population in parts of West Africa, such as Benin, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Togo and Nigeria.  

Symptoms of Lassa fever

The Symptoms of Lassa fever typically appear 1-3 weeks after exposure. Generally, they are mild and undiagnosed. Fever, fatigue, weakness and headache, are some of the symptoms people face. 

However, in 20 per cent of infected individuals, the disease may progress to more serious symptoms including bleeding, breathing difficulty, repeated vomiting, facial swelling, haemorrhaging (in gums, eyes, or nose), pain in the chest, back, and abdomen. Neurological problems including hearing loss, tremors, and encephalitis are also been described. 

Death in a few cases, after two weeks of symptoms, usually due to multi-organ failure.

Lassa fever: Treatment

The only way to avoid getting infected by the Lassa virus is to avoid contact with rats and also places where the disease is endemic. Maintaining hygiene and cleanliness in the house and elsewhere is also important. Preventing rats from entering the house and keeping food in rat-proof containers can be a great step to protect yourself from the Lassa virus. 

The virus can also be spread through an infected person’s bodily fluids or through mucous membranes, so one must either wear a mask or avoid being in contact with such a person.

 
(With inputs from CDC)