There has been a recent outbreak of Lassa fever in Nigeria. According to latest situation report from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) as at 19th January 2020, a total of 163 confirmed cases and 24 deaths has been recorded across 8 States of Nigeria in 2020. The affected states include Ondo, Edo, Ebonyi,Taraba, Plateau, Bauchi, Ogun and Abia.
Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF) caused by the Lassa virus. The natural reservoir for the virus is the Mastomys natalensis rodent (commonly known as the multimammate rat). Other rodents have also been identified who carry the virus.
Lassa fever remains a major public health challenge in West Africa with Nigeria bearing the highest burden. It occurs throughout the year but more cases are recorded during the dry season i.e. November through May.
Lassa fever is spread through:
- Direct contact with urine, faces, saliva or blood of infected rats.
- Contact with objects, household items and surfaces or eating food, contaminated with urine, faeces, saliva or blood of infected rats.
- Person to person transmission by contact with blood, urine, faeces, vomitus, and other body fluids of an infected person.
The signs and symptoms as well as prevention are represented in the graphic illustration sourced from Nigeria Centre for Disease Control