What is

Lassa Fever?

What you need to know to protect yourself!

WHAT IS LASSA FEVER?

Lassa fever is a viral infection caused by the Lassa fever virus. The virus is primarily transmitted to humans through contact with urine or excreta from rats. The disease occurs throughout the year, but more cases are recorded during dry season.

How is Lassa fever

Spread?

1. Rat to Human:

Direct contact with urine, faeces, saliva or blood of infected rats. Eating food or taking drinks contaminated with urine, faeces, saliva or blood of infected rats.

2. Human to Human:

Contact with blood, urine, saliva, throat secretion or semen of an infected person.

3. Contaminated Equipment and Surfaces:

Touching of floors, beddings and household materials contaminated with urine, faeces, saliva or blood of rats or an infected person.

Symptoms

of Lassa fever

The symptoms of the disease usually start with a fever and general body weakness. Features of the disease appear 6 to 21 days after contact with the Lassa fever virus.

Incubation period

6-21 days

after contact with the Lassa fever virus

Early Symptoms

Fever, Headache, Sore Throat

After few days…

High Fever (38.5 °C or above)

Sore Throat

Vomiting

Diarrhea

Back Pain

Cough

Chest Pain

Abdominal Pain

Restlessness

Swelling of the Face

Bleeding via body openings (NOSE, EARS, EYES, MOUTH, ETC)

IF YOU EXPERIENCE ANY OF THESE SYMPTOMS, REPORT IMMEDIATELY TO THE NEAREST HEALTH CENTRE/HOSPITAL.

THE ACTIONS EXPECTED FROM A HEALTHCARE WORKER WOULD BE TO TEST FOR MALARIA AND OTHER COMMON CAUSES OF FEVER. IF THESE TESTS ARE NEGATIVE, LASSA FEVER SHOULD BE CONSIDERED.

HOW TO PREVENT LASSA FEVER

Prevention of Lassa fever relies on promoting good “community hygiene” to discourage rodents from entering homes.

STAY VIGILANT FOR LASSA FEVER

Some of the early symptoms of Lassa fever are similar to those of Malaria. Anyone having headache and fever should go to a healthcare facility for a Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) for Malaria.

Home:

Storing grain and other foodstuffs in rodent-proof containers.
Disposing of garbage far from the home.
Maintaining clean households.
Avoid contact with blood and body fluids while caring for sick persons.

Hospitals/Clinics:

General Patients Care

Always apply standard infection prevention and control (IPC) precautions when caring for patients, REGARDLESS OF THEIR PRESUMED DIAGNOSIS.

These include basic hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, use of personal protective equipment (to block splashes or other contact with infected materials), and safe injection practices. 

All confirmed cases of Lassa fever who have died should be given a safe and dignified burial.

Caring for Patients with Lassa Fever

Health workers caring for patients with suspected or confirmed Lassa fever should apply extra infection control measures to prevent contact with the patient’s blood and body fluids and contaminated surfaces or materials such as clothing and bedding.

Any suspected Lassa fever case should be admitted immediately into an isolation room/ward, in a hospital designated by the State to treat VHF cases. Dedicate non-disposable equipment for patient use only (i.e. stethoscopes, BP cuff, glucometer. Ensure all healthcare workers have access to, and wear appropriate PPE when handling and reprocessing contaminated medical devices.

Read: National Guidelines on Infection Prevention and Control of Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers available on: ncdc.gov.ng/diseases/guidelines.

LABORATORIES:

Laboratory workers are also at risk. Samples taken from humans and animals for investigation of Lassa virus infection should be handled by trained staff and processed in suitably equipped laboratories.

LASSA FEVER

is preventable and can be treated successfully if detected early.

IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE BEEN INFECTED WITH LASSA FEVER:

  1. Avoid contact with other people.
  2. Seek health advice: go to the nearest health facility immediately for evaluation.
  3. Drink plenty of fluids

HEALHCARE WORKERS SHOULD TEST FOR MALARIA AND OTHER COMMON CAUSES OF FEVER. IF NEGATIVE, THINK OF LASSA FEVER.

Call NCDC for help Toll-Free on: 0800-970000-10

WHATSAPP: +234-708-711-0839. SMS: +234-809-955-5577.

ncdc.gov.ng

Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) © 2018