Lassa fever – Nigeria

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Lassa fever (LF) virus transmission is continuing at a rapid pace in Nigeria, with 117 new cases reported in the second week of January, with a slow decline towards then end of January.

Ondo, Ebonyi, and Edo states have the most cases so far this year.

Photo: Lassa fever virus – Electron micrograph

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 but for 1 percent of those infected, death occurs in the first two weeks. The disease is usually initially spread to people via contact with the urine or feces of an infected mouse. Spread can then further continue between people.

There is no vaccine. Prevention requires isolating those who are infected and decreasing contact with mice.

Descriptions of the disease date from the 1950s. The virus was first described in 1969 from a case in the town of Lassa, in Borno State, Nigeria. Lassa fever is relatively common in West Africa.

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