Lassa Fever kills one person in Ghana: Here’s what we know about the virus  


The Ghana Health Service has confirmed that a 40-year-old trader in Accra has died after being infected with Lassa fever. 

According to the Ghana Health Service (GHS), fourteen cases (14) of Lassa Fever have been recorded since the outbreak in February.

Currently, all 13 active cases, according to the GHS, are in stable condition and being managed.

The Ghana Health Service says 97 contacts have been identified and are being followed up by the Service.

In this report, Fact-check Ghana has put together quick facts about the virus and its prevention methods.

What is Lassa Fever?

Lassa fever is a viral illness spread by the rodent population in parts of West Africa. It is caused by the Lassa virus and the incubation period is 2-21 days. The disease is predominant in parts of West Africa including Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria. In 2011, Ghana recorded its first case of Lassa Fever.

The American Centre for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that about 100,000 to 300,000 infections of Lassa fever occur annually, with about 5,000 deaths.


Mode of transmission

The virus is transmitted to humans through contact with food or household items contaminated with rodent (Rats, Mice) urine or faeces.

Lassa virus may also be spread between humans through direct contact with the blood, urine, faeces, or other bodily fluids of a person infected with Lassa fever.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) cautions that person-to-person infections and laboratory transmission can also occur, particularly in healthcare settings in the absence of adequate infection-prevention and control measures.

According to the Ghana Health Service, sexual transmission of Lassa virus has been reported.

Symptoms of Lassa Fever

The incubation period for the Lassa Fever disease is from 2-21days.

The early symptoms of Lassa fever may include fever and general weakness.

Infected persons may later present with headache, sore throat, muscle pain, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, cough, and abdominal pain.

In severe cases, there may be bleeding from the mouth, nose, vagina or stomach. Death usually occurs within 14 days of onset in fatal cases.

According to the WHO, about 80% of people who become infected with the Lassa virus have no symptoms and one in 5 infections results in severe disease, where the virus affects several organs such as the liver, spleen and kidneys.


How can Lassa Fever be treated? 

There is currently no vaccine that protects against Lassa fever. However, it is advised to visit the nearest health facility for medical attention and treatment if you identify any of the symptoms.


How to Prevent Lassa Fever 

Avoid contact with rodents.

Dispose of garbage far from the home.

It is also important to avoid contact with blood and body fluids while caring for sick persons.

Store grain and other foodstuffs in rodent-proof containers.

Maintain clean households and keep cats to prevent rodent infestation if possible.

Promote community hygiene to discourage rodents from entering your home.


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