A father and son from a local village have died from Lassa fever at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital in Kano, according to a local media report. These are likely the first cases in the north-western state.

Nigeria/Alvaro1984 18
Nigeria/Alvaro1984 18

According to the Guardian report, the Executive Secretary of Centre for Disease Control in Nigeria, Prof. Abdulsalam Nasidi, confirmed that the deaths were caused by Lassa virus.

Additional reports from ProMed Mail say 4 of the close contacts of these deceased at home have developed fever and Lassa virus RNA was identified.

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.