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Home > Blog > Lassa Fever - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Lassa Fever - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Lassa Fever - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Max Lab

Jul 25, 2023

In this blog post, we will delve into the depths of Lassa Fever - exploring its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment options and prevention methods. Whether you're seeking information or simply curious about this alarming disease, join us on this informative journey to uncover the secrets behind Lassa Fever!

What is Lassa Fever?

Lassa Fever is a viral illness that belongs to the family Arenaviridae. It was first identified in 1969 when two missionary nurses in Nigeria fell ill with an unknown illness. Named after the town where it was discovered, Lassa Fever primarily affects countries in West Africa.

Symptoms of Lassa Fever

Symptoms of Lassa Fever include:

Causes of Lassa Fever

Lassa fever is caused by the Lassa virus, a single-stranded RNA virus belonging to the Arenaviridae family. The primary reservoir of this virus is the multimammate rat (Mastomys natalensis), which can shed the virus in its urine and feces. Humans can contract Lassa fever through direct contact with these infected rats or their excreta.

The transmission of the Lassa virus to humans most commonly occurs through ingestion or inhalation of particles contaminated with rodent excreta. This can happen when individuals come into contact with surfaces or objects contaminated with urine, feces, or saliva from infected rodents.

Person-to-person transmission also plays a significant role in spreading Lassa fever. Close contact with infected individuals, particularly through exposure to bodily fluids such as blood, urine, and respiratory secretions, can lead to infection.

Furthermore, healthcare workers are at an increased risk due to their close proximity to patients and potential exposure to infectious materials during medical procedures.

It's important to note that while rare cases have been reported outside Africa due to travel-associated infections or laboratory accidents involving the handling of infected material, overall human-to-human transmission remains limited outside endemic regions.

Diagnosis of Lassa Fever

Diagnosis of Lassa Fever begins with a thorough medical history and physical examination. The healthcare provider will ask about symptoms, recent travel history, and potential exposure to rodents or infected individuals.

To confirm the diagnosis, laboratory tests are needed. Blood samples are taken to detect the presence of Lassa virus antigens or antibodies in the body. These tests include enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).

In some cases, a chest X-ray may be performed to check for any signs of pneumonia or other respiratory complications caused by Lassa Fever. Additionally, an electrocardiogram (ECG) might be conducted to assess heart function as cardiac abnormalities can occur in severe cases.

It's important to note that early diagnosis is crucial for effective treatment and prevention of further spread of the disease. Therefore, if you suspect you have been exposed to Lassa Fever or show symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle weakness, fatigue, or bleeding disorders seek medical attention immediately.

Remember that only qualified healthcare professionals can perform accurate diagnostic tests for Lassa Fever. Self-diagnosis based on symptoms alone is not recommended as they can overlap with other illnesses. Always consult a medical professional for proper evaluation and guidance

Treatment of Lassa Fever

Treating Lassa fever involves a multi-faceted approach that focuses on relieving symptoms, managing complications, and providing supportive care to the patient. As there is currently no specific antiviral drug for Lassa fever, treatment primarily aims to alleviate symptoms and support the body's immune response.

Patients with severe cases of Lassa fever may require hospitalization in isolation units equipped to prevent the spread of the virus. Supportive care measures such as maintaining hydration levels through intravenous fluids and electrolyte replacement are crucial during this time.

Additionally, healthcare professionals may administer ribavirin, an antiviral medication that has shown some effectiveness in treating Lassa fever when given early in the course of illness. However, its effectiveness decreases significantly if administered after seven days from symptom onset.

Prevention of Lassa Fever

Preventing the spread of Lassa fever is crucial in controlling its outbreak. Here are some key measures that can be taken to prevent the transmission of this deadly virus.

  1. Personal Hygiene: Practicing good personal hygiene is essential in preventing the spread of any infectious disease, including Lassa fever. Regularly washing hands with soap and water, especially after using the toilet or handling animals, can help eliminate potential sources of infection.
  2. Avoid Contact with Rodents: As rodents are primary carriers of the Lassa virus, it is important to take precautions to avoid contact with them or their urine and droppings. Keep homes clean and free from rodent infestation by sealing cracks and holes where they may enter.
  3. Safe Food Storage: Properly storing food in sealed containers will deter rodents from accessing it and potentially contaminating it with their bodily fluids or feces.
  4. Safe Burial Practices: In areas where Lassa fever cases have been reported, safe burial practices should be followed to minimize the risk of exposure to infected body fluids.
  5. Healthcare Safety Measures: Healthcare workers should adhere to strict infection prevention and control protocols when dealing with suspected or confirmed cases of Lassa fever.

Conclusion

Lassa Fever requires immediate medical attention due to its potential severity. By being aware of its symptoms—fever headache ,muscle ache, sore throat, nausea, vomiting,diahhrea, coughing, chest pain, and bleeding—we can take proactive steps towards early diagnosis which leads us closer to efficient treatments.

 

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