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Lassa fever is a severe viral disease that occurs in West Africa. It is a disease of the blood, liver and spleen. It is a viral haemorrhagic fever. Lassa fever was discovered in the year 1969 when two missionary nurses died in Nigeria, West Africa. The cause of the illness was found to be Lassa virus, named after the town in Nigeria where the first cases originated. It is recognized in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, as well as Nigeria.
The main cause of Lassa virus is a rodent known as the Multimammate Rat of the genus Mastomys but it is not sure that which species of Mastomys are associated with Lassa fever.
Signs & Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of Lassa fever typically occur 1-3 weeks after the patient comes into contact with the virus. These include
In severe cases,
Approximately 15% of hospitalized patients die. The disease is more severe in pregnancy, and fetal loss occurs in greater than 80% of cases.
There are various laboratory tests that are performed to diagnose the disease and assess its course and complications.
Other laboratory findings in Lassa fever include
Death occurs in 15-20% of hospitalized patients. The death rates are particularly high for women in the third trimester of pregnancy, and for fetuses, about 95% of which die in the uterus of infected pregnant mothers. If left untreated, the mortality rate approaches 50%.
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