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Lassa fever

Date: 16 February 2022 Tags: Miscellaneous


An individual diagnosed with Lassa fever has recently succumbed to the disease in the UK.



The individual has been linked to travel to West African countries, where the disease is prevalent.



  • The Lassa virus, which causes the disease, is named after a town in Nigeria, where the first cases were discovered.

  • The death rate for the disease is one of the lowest at about one percent but is significantly higher for certain individuals, such as pregnant women in their third trimester.

  • The disease remains undiagnosed because about 80% of the cases are asymptomatic. Some people may need hospitalization.

  • This may be due to severe multi-system disease. The mortality of people hospitalized with severe illness is about 15 percent.



  • The virus causing the illness is a native of West Africa and was first discovered in 1969 in Lassa, Nigeria. The discovery was made after two nurses died in Nigeria.

  • The virus is transmitted through rats and is endemic to West African countries including Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and Nigeria.

  • People will be infected with the disease if they come in contact with food infected with feces or urine of infected rat.

  • In rare cases, it will spread from one person to another through infected bodily fluids or through mucous membranes such as the eyes, nose or the mouth. 

  • The disease does not spread before symptoms appear and it cannot spread through hugging, shaking hands or sitting near someone who is infected.



  • Symptoms appear 1-3 weeks after infection and mild ones include slight fever, fatigue, weakness and headache.

  • Severe symptoms include bleeding, vomiting, difficulty breathing, facial swelling, pain in the chest, back, and abdomen and shock.

  • The most striking symptom is deafness. One-third of those infected report various degrees of deafness. Sometimes the damage is permanent.



  • The best way to protect is avoiding contact with rats. Hygiene should be maintained to prevent rats from entering homes.

  • Efforts should be made to cover food items to prevent coming in contact with rats. Traps should be laid to capture them.

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