Lassa fever is an acute viral illness that occurs in West Africa. The illness was discovered in 1969 when two missionary nurses died in Nigeria, West Africa. The cause of the illness was found to be Lassa virus, named after the town in Nigeria where the first cases originated.
In areas of Africa where the disease is endemic, 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 infected with the virus, the remaining 20% have a severe multisystem disease. Lassa fever is also associated with occasional epidemics, during which the case-fatality rate can reach 50%.
Lassa fever is an endemic disease in portions of West Africa. It is recognized in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, as well as Nigeria. However, because the rode
nt species which carry the virus are found throughout West Africa, the actual geographic range of the disease may extend to other countries in the region.
The reservoir, or host, of Lassa virus is a rodent known as the “multimammate rat” of the genus Mastomys. It is not certain which species of Mastomys are associated with Lassa; however, at least two species carry the virus in Sierra Leone. Mastomys rodents breed very frequently, produce large numbers of offspring, and are numerous in the savannas and forests of West, Central, and East Africa. In addition, Mastomys generally readily colonize human homes. All these factors together contribute to the relatively efficient spread of Lassa virus from infected rodents to humans.
There are a number of ways in which the virus may be transmitted, or spread, to humans. The Mastomys rodents shed the virus in urine and droppings. Therefore, the virus can be transmitted through direct contact with these materials, through touching objects or eating food contaminated with these materials, or through cuts or sores. Because Mastomys rodents often live in and around homes and scavenge on human food remains or poorly stored food, transmission of this sort is common. Contact with the virus also may occur when a person inhales tiny particles in the air contaminated with rodent excretions. This is called aerosol or airborne transmission. Finally, because Mastomys rodents are sometimes consumed as a food source, infection may occur via direct contact when they are caught and prepared for food.
Lassa fever may also spread through person-to-person contact. This type of transmission occurs when a person comes into contact with virus in the blood, tissue, secretions, or excretions of an individual infected with the Lassa virus. The virus cannot be spread through casual contact (including skin-to-skin contact without exchange of body fluids).
The symptoms of Lassa fever include:
• Chest pain
• Back pain
• Sore throat
• Abdominal pain
• Facial swelling
The most common complication of Lassa fever is deafness. Various degrees of deafness occur in approximately one-third of cases, and in many cases hearing loss is permanent. As far as is known, severity of the disease does not affect this complication: deafness may develop in mild as well as in severe cases. Spontaneous abortion is another serious complication.
So let’s go to how to prevent it.
Rats are everywhere in the houseno matter how clean a house is. Once rats see an avenue to get indoors, the always do. They also breed and multiply in dozens!!
Since we now know that Lassa Fever is spread through the droppings & urine of rats, we should always rinse every dish or cutllery before use. Also fruits and vegetables that are eaten raw should be rinsed again at the point one wants to eat them.
Fumigation of the premesis is also important as it kills the rats in large numbers.
I do not usually fumigate, but I use a very effective rat poison called STP RAT. It is manufactured by a Pharmaceutical company called CAPL. Its made of small blue pellets and I am astound by its effectiveness. I usually use it every three months by sprinkling it in corners round the house.
What it does to the rats is that it suffocates them and they come out of hiding to get fresh air but are ususally weak. So if you are observant, you will actually see them struggling for dear life.
The colour is very attractive to kids, so should be used with caution where kids are.