An outbreak of Lassa Fever has been reported in Taraba State, according to the Commissioner for Health, Mr. Vakkai, one person has died while two are quarantined at the Federal Medical Centre, Jalingo, capital of Taraba State, North East Nigeria.

However, the blood samples have taken from the victims and sent to the Teaching hospital at Irrua, Edo state for analysis.

Lassa Fever is an acute viral infection which was first diagnosed in Lassa village in Borno State in 1969, the disease is named after the village. Since then it has become endemic in West Africa where about 500,000 cases are recorded yearly with about 5000 deaths. The symptoms and signs are similar to those of Ebola and Dengue fevers and even malaria. Consequently, health workers are at very high risk of contracting the disease.

Lassa Fever is caused by Lassa virus; it is named after the village where the virus was first identified. The virus belongs to a group of viruses which cause haemorrhagic fevers such dengue fever, ebola fever, yellow fever and so forth.

The reservoir of infection is a particular type of rat—the Natal multimammate mouse which is found in sub-Saharan Africa. It is normally resident in the bush but is driven into houses during bush burning during the dry season.

The virus lives and multiplies in the rat. It is contained in the urine and stool of rats. The urine can contaminate exposed food and man contracts the disease if he eats the contaminated food. The stool can become dried up and with dust can be breathed in during sweeping of the floor or in a windy situation.

It spreads from person to person through direct contact with body fluids-saliva, nasal discharge, blood of infected persons.


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