Three cases of Lassa fever have been reported in Britain. One of them has died. The connection of all three patients is being linked to their travel to West African countries. It is a disease spread through a virus; hence it is also known as the Lassa virus. Its first case was reported in 1969 in Lasa city of Nigeria; therefore, it was named Lasa. First of all, two nurses died of Lassa fever. After this, its cases came up in many countries of the world.
What is the Lassa virus, how does it spread, and the risk of death from it? Know the answers to these questions…
What is Lassa fever, and how does it spread?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Lassa fever is caused by a virus spread through rats. This disease can reach humans by infecting the faeces, urine or food items of rats infected with the Lassa virus. The population of rats is high in many countries of West Africa. That’s why there are more cases here.
In West Africa, this disease is in the endemic stage, which means that people have now learned to live with this disease. These include Benin, Ghana, Togo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria and Guinea.
Which symptoms should be alerted as soon as you see them?
The report says 80 per cent of its patients do not show symptoms but get alerted when symptoms like fever, fatigue, headache, weakness appear. Apart from this, vomiting, swelling in the face, bleeding, chest, back, and abdominal pain are severe infection symptoms. After infection, it may take 2 to 21 days for the virus to show its effect.
What is the risk of death from this?
According to the WHO report, the risk of death due to Lassa virus infection is up to 1 per cent. However, pregnant women are in the highest risk zone. There are no symptoms in 80 per cent of the cases of infection. Therefore the virus cannot be detected. If not treated early, the patient may have to be admitted to the hospital. Without treatment, the risk of life increases.
The condition of 1 out of every five patients who get infected with the Lassa virus can be severe. This virus attacks the liver, spleen and kidney of the patient.
The patient may die after two weeks of showing its symptoms. In such cases, multi-organ failure occurs; that is, more than one organ in the body stops working. The CDC report says there may also be a problem of deafness after infection; this is a significant indication of the severity of the disease.
Avoid going near rats to prevent their infection. Prevent the entry of rats into homes.