Lassa fever, also known as Lassa hemorrhagic fever (LHF), is a type of viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus.
Many of those infected by the virus do not develop symptoms. When symptoms occur they typically include fever, weakness, headaches, vomiting, and muscle pains. Less commonly there may be bleeding from the mouth or gastrointestinal tract. The risk of death once infected is about one per cent and frequently occurs within two weeks of the onset of symptoms. Among those who survive about a quarter have hearing loss, which improves within three months in half of these cases. Lassa virus commonly spreads to humans from other animals, specifically the African rat, also called the natal multimammate rat (Mastomys natalensis). This is probably the most common in equatorial Africa, common in human households and eaten as a delicacy in some areas.
The Lassa virus can be transmitted through food or household items contaminated by rats’ urine and faeces.
The virus can spread between people through direct contact with the body fluids of a person infected with Lassa fever, as well as contaminated bedding and clothing.
You cannot get Lassa fever through hugging, shaking hands or sitting near someone infected. No study has proven presence in breast milk, but the high level of viremia suggests it may be possible.
HOW CAN I PREVENT GETTING INFECTED?
- Wash your hands 👋 regularly.
- Store food in containers with lids.
- Keep your home clean and tidy to discourage rats🐭🐹 from entering.
- Keep a cat🐈🐹.
- Cook all foods 🍚🥘thoroughly.
- Avoid buying foods🍗🍖🍢 wrapped in newspapers or papers entirely.