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Lassa Fever: Symptoms of Ebola-like Virus as first UK Death Confirmed

  • Published
    15th Feb, 2022

One of the three persons diagnosed with Lassa fever in the UK has died.


About Lassa fever:

  • Lassa fever is a viral haemorrhagic disease caused by the Lassa virus (a member of the arenavirus family of viruses) which naturally infects the widely distributed house rat.
  • The Lassa fever-causing virus is found in West Africa and was first discovered in 1969 in Lassa, Nigeria.
  • The fever is spread by rats and is primarily found in countries in West Africa including Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and Nigeria where it is endemic.

Lassa Fever virus is a single-stranded, enveloped RNA virus that belongs to the genus Mammarenavirus, of the Arenaviridae family of viruses. The natural reservoir for Lassa fever virus is the Mastomys natalensis rat.

  • Diagnosis: Lassa fever initially presents in a similar way to malaria or ebola, making it more difficult to distinguish early on.
  • Transmission:It is transmitted through the urine and droppings of infected rats found in most tropical and subtropical countries in Africa.
  • Communicable:They are able to contaminate anything they come in contact with. The Lassa virus spreads through human to human contact with tissue, blood, body fluids, secretions or excretions.
  • Symptoms:A fever is usually the first symptom followed by headaches and coughing, nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea, mouth ulcers and swollen lymph glands.
  • Treatment:Lassa fever can be fatal, but it can be treated if diagnosed early.
  • Complication associated: with the fever is deafness. Nearly one-third of those infected report various degrees of deafness. In many such cases, the hearing loss can be permanent. 

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