Rivers State health commissioner, Theophilus Odagme told local media last week of a new case of Lassa fever in the city of Port Harcourt in southeast Nigeria. The patient was hospitalized and has recovered from the illness.
Since Nov. 2016, six Lassa related fatalities were reported in Nigeria, including four cases reported in Nasarawa State.
Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic illness caused by Lassa virus, a member of the arenavirus family of viruses. It is transmitted to humans from contacts with food or household items contaminated with rodent excreta. The disease is endemic in the rodent population in parts of West Africa. Person-to-person infections and laboratory transmission can also occur, particularly in the hospital environment in the absence of adequate infection control measures. Diagnosis and prompt treatment are essential.
The symptoms of Lassa fever typically occur 1-3 weeks after the patient comes into contact with the virus. These include fever, retrosternal pain (pain behind the chest wall), sore throat, back pain, cough, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, conjunctivitis, facial swelling, proteinuria (protein in the urine), and mucosal bleeding. Neurological problems have also been described, including hearing loss, tremors, and encephalitis.
The Lassa virus and was 1st described in 1969 in the town of Lassa, in Borno State, Nigeria.