Just a week after two Lassa fever deaths were reported from Kano State in north-western Nigeria, officials in the eastern Nigerian state of Taraba are reporting an outbreak of the zoonotic viral disease, according to a Nigerian media report.
The report states:
The Commissioner of Health, Innocent Vakkai, who confirmed the outbreak said, “One person died and two others quarantined and their blood samples have already been taken to Irrua Specialists’ Hospital in Edo State for further confirmation.”
Mr. Vakkai called on the residents to avoid contact with rats especially in the areas where the outbreak occurred.
Through Nov. 6, Nigeria has reported 270 Lassa fever cases from 12 states, according to data from Nigerian health officials.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Lassa fever is an acute viral illness that occurs in West Africa. The virus, a member of the virus family Arenaviridae, is a single-stranded RNA virus and is zoonotic, or animal-borne.
Lassa fever is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality. While Lassa fever is mild or has no observable symptoms in about 80% of people infectedwith the virus, the remaining 20% have a severe multisystem disease.
The animal host of Lassa virus is a rodent known as the “multimammate rat” of the genus Mastomys. Humans get infected with Lassa through aerosol or direct contact with excreta from the rodent. Laboratory infections do occur primarily through contaminated needles.
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.
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