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Thanks so much for your explanation on Meningitis last week. Please, Lassa fever has also been reported in many states of Nigeria and what do people know about this new diseases.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Lassa fever is a zoonotic disease, meaning that humans become infected from contact with infected animals.
The animal reservoir, or host, of Lassa virus, is a rodent of the genus Mastomys, commonly known as the “multimammate rat.” Mastomys rats infected with Lassa virus do not become ill, but they can shed the virus in their urine and faeces.”
How is it transmitted?
1. Humans usually become infected with Lassa virus from exposure to urine or faeces of infected Mastomys rats.
2. Lassa virus may also be spread between humans through direct contact with the blood, urine, faeces, or other bodily secretions of a person infected with Lassa fever.
3. There is no epidemiological evidence supporting airborne spread among humans.
4. Person-to-person transmission occurs in both community and health-care settings, where the virus may be spread by contaminated medical equipment, such as re-used needles.
5. Sexual transmission of Lassa virus has been reported.
6. Lassa fever occurs in all age groups and both sexes. Persons at greatest risk are those living in rural areas where Mastomys are usually found, especially in communities with poor sanitation or crowded living conditions.
7. Health workers are at risk if caring for Lassa fever patients in the absence of proper barrier nursing and infection prevention and control practices.
Prevention and control
Prevention of Lassa fever relies on promoting good “community hygiene” to discourage rodents from entering homes. Effective measures include storing grain and other foodstuffs in rodent-proof containers, disposing of garbage far from the home, maintaining clean households and keeping cats.
Family members should always be careful to avoid contact with blood and body fluids while caring for sick persons.
In health-care settings, staff should always apply standard infection prevention and control precautions when caring for patients, regardless of their presumed diagnosis. These include basic hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, and use of personal protective equipment.
Laboratory workers are also at risk. Samples taken from humans and animals for investigation of Lassa virus infection should be handled by trained staff.