LASSA FEVER AND ITS EPEDEMIC IN AFRICA

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the disease can be transmitted via sexual intercourse with infected persons since the virus is contacted through urine and faeces of infected Mastomys rats.


History
Lassa virus is a member of the Arenaviridae virus family which is quite similar with “Ebola”. Lassa fever or Lassa hemorrhagic fever (LHF) is an acute viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus and first described in 1969 in the town of Lassa, in Borno State, Nigeria. Though it has been known over a decade, the viral pathogen is difficult to trace.
“Since November 2015, Nigeria, Benin, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Togo have reported more than 300 cases of Lassa fever and 167 deaths. Nigeria accounts for the majority of the cases with 266 cases and 138 deaths reported in 22 of the country’s 36 states as at 21 March 2016. Benin has recorded 51 cases and 25 deaths. Togo and Sierra Leone each reported 2 cases. More recently, since February, Liberia has reported seven confirmed cases including 3 deaths” According to WHO.
Around 300,000 people are infected annually, with up to 5,000 deaths per year.
It is relatively common in parts of West Africa where the multimammate rat is common, particularly Guinea (Kindia, Faranah and Nzerekore regions), Liberia (mostly in Lofa, Bong, and Nimba counties), Nigeria (everywhere) and Sierra Leone (typically from Kenema and Kailahun districts). It is present but less common in the Central African Republic, Mali, Senegal and other nearby countries, and less common yet in Ghana and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Benin had its first confirmed cases in 2014, and Togo had its first confirmed cases in 2016.
Approximately 15%-20% of patients hospitalized for Lassa fever die from the illness. However, only about 1% of infection with the Lassa virus result in death. 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.
Many of these lives could have been saved if a rapid diagnostic test were available so that people could receive treatment early.
Symptoms
The intriguing fact about Lassa’s symptoms remains that about 80% of people who become infected with Lassa virus have no symptoms or they have symptoms that mimic other illnesses. Some of them includes; Fever, Headache, Dry cough, Maculopapular rash, Blood pressure changes, Sudden hypotension, Swollen neck, Swollen face, Swollen eyes, Sore throat, Back pain, Muscle pains, Vomiting, Diarrhea, Pharyngitis, Facial swelling, Loss of appetite, Lethargy, Weight loss, Severe chest pain, Severe abdominal pain, Ringing in ears, Rash, Bleeding, Heart rate changes etc.
Causes
The Lassa virus is carried by a rodent known as "multimammate rat" of the genus Mastomys, which is found in the savannas and forest of West, Centralm East Africa. Though the species is not certain, research has it that M. huberti and M. erythroleucus rodents breed very frequently, produce large numbers of offspring and normally dwells in human homes.  All these factors together contribute to the relatively efficient spread of Lassa virus from infected rodents to humans.
Transmission
The virus is transmitted to humans from direct contact with infected rats by catching and preparing them for food, or through contact with food or household items contaminated with rat faeces or urine. The virus can also be transmitted through contact with an infected person’s body fluids.
Question: Can Lassa be transmitted through sexual intercourse?
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the disease can be transmitted via sexual intercourse with infected persons since the virus is contacted through urine and faeces of infected Mastomys rats. It may also be spread between humans through direct contact with the blood, urine, faeces, or other bodily secretions of an infected person.
Control Measures
One of the most fascinating facts about Lassa entails that LASSA HAS NO CURE
Lassa, like many other diseases bedeviling the world today, has no cure. However, ribavirin, an antiviral drug, has been used with commendable success in Lassa fever patients.
It has been shown to be most effective when given early in the course of the illness, but patients 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.
There are some preventive measures obtainable to ensure total eradication of lassa fever in Africa. Some of these preventives measures are;
1.       Good community hygiene to bar rats from entering homes.
2.       Grains and other foodstuffs should be stored in rodent-proof containers, while disposing garbage far from the home, maintaining clean households.
3.       A large number of Nigerians do not love keeping cats, but the WHO prescribes that keeping cats can help keep Lassa fever away, by keeping rats away altogether.
4.       Family members should always be careful to avoid contact with blood and body fluids while caring for sick persons.
Treatment

Lassa can be treated with Ribavirin (an antiviral drug). It has been shown to be most effective when given early in the course of the illness. 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.
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FUTO GBEDU: Whispering into your Ears | Admission lists | Certification Examinations: LASSA FEVER AND ITS EPEDEMIC IN AFRICA
LASSA FEVER AND ITS EPEDEMIC IN AFRICA
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the disease can be transmitted via sexual intercourse with infected persons since the virus is contacted through urine and faeces of infected Mastomys rats.
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FUTO GBEDU: Whispering into your Ears | Admission lists | Certification Examinations
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