The Ghana Health Service is cautioning the public of an outbreak of LASSA FEVER in Nigeria. The service is calling on medical facilities in Ghana and the general public to be alert in order to prevent an outbreak of the disease in the country.
Nigeria has recorded over 300 cases and 31 deaths within the past six weeks.
LASSA FEVER, like the Ebola virus, is an acute viral hemorrhagic fever illness prevalent in the rodent populations in parts of West Africa. The disease was identified in 1969 from three missionary nurses who died in Lassa, Nigeria, after caring for an obstetrical patient.
The LASSA FEVER virus is transmitted to humans through contact with food or household items contaminated with urine, saliva, faeces, and blood of rodents (Multi-mammat rat). Also, person-to-person infections and laboratory transmissions can occur, particularly in hospitals lacking proper infection-control precautions.
The disease at its incubation period (6-21 days) is often gradual with most infected persons having mild or no symptoms. Early symptoms include fever, general weakness, and malaise. After few days, headaches, sore throat, muscle pains, chest pains, back pains, vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal pains may occur. In severe cases, the infected person may experience facial swelling, and bleeding tendencies (from the mouth, nose, vagina, or gastrointestinal tract, and low blood pressure). Symptoms at its late stage include shock, seizures, disorientation and coma. Complications include: deafness, transient hair loss and gait disturbance which may occur during recovery.
People are advised to avoid clutter, poor sanitation and over-crowding in their homes and surroundings.
Currently, there is no effective vaccine for the disease, thus the public is entreated to avoid contact with rodents. However, early use of Ribavarine (within seven days of disease onset), supportive care with re-hydration and symptomatic treatment improves survival.