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      Lassa fever

      Latest update: - Authors: Ula Maniewski, Nele Alders

      Lassa fever is caused by an infection with the Lassa virus. 

      Six to twenty-one days after infection fever can develop together with other symptoms like:

      • headache
      • sore throat
      • muscle pain
      • abdominal complaints like nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea 
      • cough
      • red eyes

      The illness can be severe or even life-threatening with failure of various organs, bleeding or fluid accumulation. 

      Infection occurs through contact with infected rodents, sick people, or their body fluids.

      Healthcare workers and family members of patients are most at risk of infection. For tourists, the risk of infection is very low. 

      Treatment is supportive and with antiviral (ribavirin) medication.

      Risk areas

      Lassa fever occurs in parts of West Africa, mainly in Nigeria, Liberia, Guinea (Conacry) and Sierra Leone. The disease occurs sporadically in Ghana, Mali, Togo, Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Cameroon and Central African Republic.

      Prevention

      Hygiene

      Wash your hands with soap after making contact with people or objects in a public area.

      Infected persons

      Avoid contact with blood and other body fluids of (potentially) infected people. 

      Avoid handling objects that came in contact with blood or body fluids of infected people.

      Rodents

      Avoid contact with rodents and their droppings.

      Avoid inhalation of dust contaminated with it (such as during cleaning).

      Food

      Avoid contact with food that may have come into contact with rodents: always store food in rodent proof containers. 

      Do not eat rodents.

      Vaccination

      There is no vaccine available.

      In case of symptoms

      In case of fever or illness within 21 days of returning from a country where Lassa fever is present, or after contact with someone with Lassa fever: contact us immediately by phone.

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