Here is everything you should know about Lassa fever Virus
Lassa fever is a rare but life-threatening disease that’s spread through contact with the Lassa virus. It is endemic in West Africa, and it has become more common there as a result of the region’s weakened immune systems caused by pandemic disease, war, and resource scarcity. Lassa fever can be contracted through direct contact with infected people or their body fluids. It cannot be transmitted from animals to humans or vice versa. The virus can survive for a short period of time outside of the human body — but not long enough for someone to get Lassa from a toilet seat or other surface contaminated with the Lassa virus. To learn more about this devastating condition, read on!
What is Lassa fever Virus?
Lassa fever is a virus that causes a type of hemorrhagic fever. This condition is marked by fever, headaches, and muscle pain, as well as symptoms more specific to hemorrhagic fevers, such as bodily swelling and bleeding. The Lassa virus is endemic in West Africa and is often contracted by healthcare workers, individuals who live with rodents, and others who come into direct contact with infected blood or bodily fluids. There are no antiviral medications currently available to treat Lassa fever, and patients are often given antibiotics or other drugs to help manage pain and reduce the risk of complications. Lassa fever has a case fatality rate of about 20%, which means that it kills one in five people who contract it. While it is rare in the United States and other areas outside West Africa, there is an ongoing effort to develop a vaccine to prevent infection and make it less deadly.
How did the Lassa virus get its name?
The Lassa virus was named after the town where it was discovered in Africa over 50 years ago. The virus was discovered by health workers in Nigeria who were investigating a mysterious outbreak among the residents in the town of Lassa and surrounding villages. The Ebola virus was also discovered in Nigeria, but in 1976 — five years after the first Lassa virus infections were identified. It was believed that the outbreak was started by a healthcare worker who had been treating a missionary who had been infected with Lassa fever as part of his work in West Africa. Interestingly, the town of Lassa has its name because it was once a center for healing — and it’s a reminder that Lassa fever has long existed in this part of Africa!
Signs and symptoms of Lassa Fever
– Fever – Swollen lymph nodes – Headache – Muscle aches – Abdominal pain – Diarrhea – Vomiting – Rash – Mild bleeding (such as bleeding gums) – Seizures – Coma – Death These symptoms appear 10 to 30 days after a person is infected with the virus. Because Lassa fever has similar symptoms to other common diseases, confirmation of the infection often requires lab testing of blood or other bodily fluids.
Risk factors for contracting Lassa Fever
– Working in or near a medical setting – Having direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person – Living with rodents that carry the virus – Having direct contact with the environment where an infected rodent has passed away – Having a weakened immune system due to illness or medical treatment As with many illnesses, the risk factor that is most common with Lassa fever is being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Those who are more likely to encounter the virus, either directly or indirectly, are most at risk of contracting the disease. Having a weakened immune system due to illness or medical treatment can increase the risk of developing Lassa fever or make symptoms worse if the infection is contracted.
How is the Lassa virus treated?
There are currently no antiviral medications to treat Lassa fever, and antibiotics are not effective against the virus. Patients who are diagnosed early and given adequate supportive care often recover and do not experience long-term complications. However, Lassa fever has a high fatality rate, with approximately one in five people who contract the disease dying. Laboratory tests can be used to confirm whether a person has Lassa fever and identify the specific type of Lassa virus that is causing the infection. These tests may be done on blood, urine, spinal fluid, or other bodily fluids. Diagnosis of the disease is complicated by the fact that symptoms of Lassa fever are similar to those of other infections.
Final words: A word of caution
Lassa fever virus is on the rise in West Africa, and the threat is growing. It is important to remember that this disease can be fatal if not treated in time, so it is vital to be aware of the risk factors and symptoms of Lassa fever. While it is true that the virus is not easily transmitted, it can be contracted through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person. With this in mind, it is important that those at risk of contracting Lassa fever take all necessary precautions to protect themselves against infection.