Care & Prevention for Lassa Fever
Lassa Fever is viral and hemorrhage fever that is transmitted from rats to humans and between humans to humans.
a) Exposure to Infected Rats (Mastomys)
Humans usually become infected with Lassa virus from exposure to urine or faeces of infected Mastomys rats. Lassa virus may also be spread between humans through direct contact with the blood, urine, faeces, or other bodily secretions of a person infected with Lassa fever. There is no epidemiological evidence supporting airborne spread between humans.
b) Person-to-person transmission
This occurs in both community and health-care settings, where the virus may be spread by contaminated medical equipment, such as re-used needles. Sexual transmission of Lassa virus has been reported. Lassa fever occurs in all age groups and both sexes. Persons at greatest risk are those living in rural areas where Mastomys are usually found, especially in communities with poor sanitation or crowded living conditions. Health workers are at risk if caring for Lassa fever patients in the absence of proper barrier nursing and infection control practices.
2. Prevention and control
a) Community Hygiene
Prevention of Lassa fever relies on promoting good “community hygiene” to discourage rodents from entering homes. Effective measures include storing grain and other foodstuffs in rodent-proof containers, disposing of garbage far from the home, maintaining clean households and keeping cats. Because Mastomys are so abundant in endemic areas, it is not possible to completely eliminate them from the environment.
b) Personal Hand Hygiene
Always observe the simple health and personal hygiene measures of hand washing and sanitization. If you feel sick quick use face mask to protect friends and family members. Avoid contact with blood and body fluids while caring for sick persons. In health-care settings, staff should always apply standard infection prevention and control precautions when caring for patients, regardless of their presumed diagnosis. These include basic hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, use of personal protective equipment (to block splashes or other contact with infected materials), safe injection practices and safe burial practices.
c) Hospital Hygiene and Safety
Health workers at hospitals, pharmacies and community centres caring for patients with suspected or confirmed Lassa fever should apply extra infection control measures to prevent contact with the patient’s blood and body fluids and contaminated surfaces or materials such as clothing and bedding. When in close contact (within 1 metre) of patients with Lassa fever, health-care workers should wear face protection (a face shield or a medical mask and goggles), a clean, non-sterile long-sleeved gown, and gloves (sterile gloves for some procedures). Laboratory workers are also at risk. Samples taken from humans and animals for investigation of Lassa virus infection should be handled by trained staff and processed in suitably equipped laboratories.