• Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic illness caused by Lassa Virus, a member of the Arenavirus family.
  • It is often fatal and occurs commonly in West Africa where the disease is endemic in the rodent population.
  • It is a zoonosis from the rodent Mastomys natalensis

  • Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea most commonly affected
  • Cases imported into UK and US
  • Both sexes are affected
  • All ages are affected


  • Mastomys once infected is asymptomatic but excretes the virus for its lifetime
  • Rodent urine or feces contaminates food and water leading to infections
  • Direct infection through eating or handling of infected rats
  • Aerosol inhalation
  • Person to person through blood and body fluids of infected person in hospital ( nosocomial) and at home
  • Sexual transmission has been reported


    • Incubation period: 5-21 days
    • Progressive fever. Degree of fever directly relates to prognosis
    • Malaise
    • Weakness
    • GI symptoms e.g abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, dysphagia
    • Features of hepatitis e.g jaundice
    • Sore throat and pseudomembrane may develop
    • Conjunctival redness
    • Dizziness
    • Cough
    • Chest pain
    • Facial and neck swelling
    • Occasional cases: epistaxis, tinnitus, bleeding gum and venepuncture sites, maculopapular rashes


  • Community hygiene
  • Food/ grains in rodent- proof containers
  • Garbage far from homes
  • Cleanliness in household
  • Rodent control e.g use of cats
  • Home care of febrile patients: avoid blood and body fluids.
  • Health care staff: standard infection prevention and control for all illnesses i.e face mask, hand wash protective gloves and goggles, aprons(PPEs) and general safe injection practices
  • Lassa fever vaccine is being developed.


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