Lassa Fever
Travel Health

From: Travel Health Information and Advice

Lassa Fever
Lassa Fever is highly contagious virus that is transmitted from rodents infected with the Lassa virus to humans via contact or inhalation of the virus or through tiny air bourne particles and virus can in many cases be fatal.

Lassa Virus
The lassa virus is found in rodents known as Mastomys, these rodents often show no signs of the virus and can often be found around or near peoples homes in endemic areas.

The virus is spread either through direct contact with infected rodent faeces and urine, by contact through contaminated surfaces, through food contaminated with the virus or through airborne particles.

Symptoms of Lassa Fever
In some cases of infection there will be no visible signs or symptoms of the disease, while in others the outcome can be fatal. Severe complications such as to internal organs can affect systems such as the nervous system, cardiovascular system, respiratory system and gastrointestinal tract. Early symptoms often include:

Endemic Areas
The disease was named after Lassa Town in Nigeria where it was first discovered, and is endemic in many other West African countries.

Most At Risk From Lassa Fever
Although Lassa fever can affect anyone, pregnant women are particularly at risk, especially those who are in their third trimester, as many foetuses unfortunately either die in the uterus or are aborted.

Preventing Lassa Fever
There is at present no vaccine available against Lassa Fever, so when travelling to areas that are endemic with the disease great care should be taken such as:

Diagnosing Lassa Fever
Diagnosis is achieved through blood or urine testing to confirm the virus.

Treatment for Lassa Fever
Immediate isolation in hospital and medical treatment with the use of anti viral medication is in many cases successful. The patient should be closely monitored and symptoms treated accordingly