Lassa fever, an acute viral haemorrhagic fever, extremely virulent and often infectious, occurs very frequently in different parts of Nigeria and affects approximately 100,000-500,000 persons per year in West Africa. The illness was discovered in Lassa, Borno State where it was first reported. It is caused by the Lassa fever virus, a single stranded RNA virus belonging to the arenaviridae family.
The incubation period for Lassa fever varies from 6 – 21 days. It is symptomatic and usually characterized by fever, myalgia, nausea, vomiting, sore throat, abdominal and chest pains. Illness may progress to more serious symptoms including haemorrhaging, neurological problems, hearing loss, tremors and encephalitis.
Lassa virus is zoonotic and infected rodents in the mastomysnatalensis species complex are reservoirs capable of excreting the virus through urine, saliva, excreta and other body fluids to man. Secondary human – to- human spread within a community may occur through inhalation or ingestion. Nosocomial transmission is also not uncommon.
Lassa fever is endemic in parts of West Africa including Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria. Outbreaks of the disease have been reported in various parts of Nigeria and the most recent of them is the on-going January 2020 outbreak with a present death toll of 41 casualties from 19 states of the federation according to Premier Times of January 28, 2020. There have been several Lassa fever outbreaks since it was first reported in 1969 with the worst outbreak recorded in 2012 where 623 cases including 70 deaths were reported from 19 out of the 36 states].
Source: https://www.panafrican-med-journal.com & Premier Times