By NewsDesk  @bactiman63

Today, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) issued a public health advisory due to Lassa fever.

Image/Robert Herriman

Lassa fever remains a major public health challenge in West Africa with Nigeria bearing the highest burden. Lassa fever occurs throughout the year but more cases are recorded during the dry season i.e. November through May.

This year through January 17, NCDC has reported 226 suspected cases, 23 confirmed cases and four deaths among the confirmed cases.

While the numbers are lower than 2020’s record year, the case fatality rate (CFR) of 17.4% which is higher than the CFR for the same period in 2020 (17.1%).

In total for 2021, 5 States have recorded at least one confirmed case across 12 Local Government Areas.

Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic 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 is spread through:

1. Direct contact with urine, faces, saliva or blood of infected rats.

2. Contact with objects, household items and surfaces or eating food, contaminated with urine, faeces, saliva or blood of infected rats.

3. Person to person transmission by contact with blood, urine, faeces, vomitus, and other body fluids of an infected person.

Signs and symptoms of Lassa fever:

Lassa fever presents initially like any other febrile illness such as malaria. Its symptoms include fever, headache, sore throat, general body weakness, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pains, chest pain, and in severe cases, unexplainable bleeding from ears, eyes, nose, mouth and other body openings.

The time between an infection and appearance of symptoms of the disease is 3 to 21 days. Early treatment and diagnosis increases the chances of survival.