The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) recently reported a case of Lassa fever diagnosed in a KwaZulu-Natal man who had returned from Nigeria.
The institute said it follow all possible contacts after he succumbed to the infection in a hospital in Pietermaritzburg.
The institute said that in 2007 a Nigerian national who had traveled extensively in rural parts of the country prior to his diagnosis and treatment received a Case of Lassa fever SA.
You should know about Lassa fever:
How do people get infected?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Lassa fever is caused by contact with household items contaminated with urine or feces of infected Mastomys rats.
Where is is it most endemic?
According to the organization, the infection is in Benin, Ghana, Guinea, Lib Eria, Mali, Sierra Leone, Togo and Nigeria are endemic, “but probably also exist in other West African countries.”
Is there a vaccine?
There is no vaccine against Lassa fever according to the NICD. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the antiviral drug ribavirin has been used to treat Lassa fever patients.
“It has been shown to be the most effective when given early in the disease course. Patients should also receive supportive care consisting of maintenance of adequate fluid and electrolyte balance, oxygenation and blood pressure, and treatment of any other complicating infections,” it said.
Can it be transmitted between people?
It can be spread between people in infected areas. The WHO said that human-to-human infections can occur in hospitals among professionals dealing with infected patients if they do not have adequate infection prevention and control measures in place.
To which Symptoms should people pay attention to?
The organization said that about 80% of people who contract Lassa fever show no symptoms, with only one in five infections leading to serious illness affecting organs such as the liver, Spleen and kidneys.
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