24Feb 2023


Lassa fever is a zoonotic disease caused by Lassa virus, which is a single-stranded RNA virus. Even though the virus was first described in the 1950s, it was not identified until 19691 and was subsequently named after a town in the present Borno state of Nigeria where the first case of the disease was recorded. The primary host of Lassa virus is a rodent of the genus. Mastomys, also referred to as ‘multimammate rat’. Once infected, Mastomys rats do not become ill but can shed the virus in their urine and faeces. Humans become infected from contact with the urine and faeces of infected rats. The infection can also occur in the process of hunting and processing rats for consumption. The virus is spread between humans through direct contact with blood, urine, faeces or other secretions from the infected person. As the world becomes increasingly connected, viral diseases, such as Lassa fever, once endemic to a region can be easily transmitted to other parts of the world, thus increasing the likelihood of a global pandemic. To reduce the probabilities of such events playing out, deliberate and concerted efforts must be applied towards both understanding Lassa fever and limiting infection rates. Therefore, measures that are limited in keeping of rodent out of homes and food supplies, as well as maintaining effective personal hygiene should be employed. Gloves, face masks, laboratory coats, and goggles are advised while in contact with an infected person.

Abdulwasiu Oladele Hassan
Department of Medical Laboratory Science, Achievers University, Owo, Ondo State, Nigeria.

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