Lassa fever

Published on - February 16, 2022

A viral haemorrhagic fever

Source: The Indian Express

Why is it in the news?

Three people in the United Kingdom died after being diagnosed with Lassa fever recently. The cases have been related to travel to nations in West Africa, according to the authorities.

What is Lassa fever and how does it manifest itself?


The virus that causes Lassa fever may be found throughout West Africa, and it was initially detected in Lassa, Nigeria, back in 1969.

Fever is carried by rodents and is mostly found in nations in West Africa that are endemic for the disease. These include Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and Nigeria.

Matomys rats have the ability to spread the lethal Lassa virus, which can be fatal.

The mortality rate linked with this condition is extremely low, at around 1 percent. However, certain individuals, such as pregnant women in their third trimester, have a greater mortality rate than the general population.

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, around 80% of the cases are asymptomatic and hence go untreated for an extended period of time.



The infection of a human can occur if the individual comes into touch with any household objects or food that has been contaminated by the urine or feces of an infected rat (zoonotic disease).

If a person comes into touch with a sick person's infected body fluids or through mucous membranes such as the eyes, nose, or mouth, the virus can be disseminated. This is unusual, though.

In healthcare settings, person-to-person transmission is more prevalent than in other settings.



Some of the mild symptoms include a minor temperature and exhaustion as well as weakness and a headache.

Blood loss, trouble breathing, vomiting, face swelling, discomfort in the chest, back, and abdomen, and shock are all serious signs to watch out for.

When symptoms first appear, death can occur within two weeks after the commencement of the symptoms, most often as a result of multi-organ failure.



When administered early in the course of the clinical disease, the antiviral medicine ribavirin appears to be an effective therapy for Lassa fever, according to the research.