Posted on 02ND MAR 2017
tagged Lassa Fever, West Africa; Nigeria

A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: Wed 1 Mar 2017
Source: PM News [edited]

The Borno Government said on [Wed 1 Mar 2017] it had recorded a new case of Lassa fever after a 32-year-old woman tested positive to the disease.

The Commissioner for Health, Dr Haruna Mishelia, made the disclosure at a news conference in Maiduguri. Mishelia explained that the woman, from Zabarmari in Jere Local Government Area of the state, developed some symptoms of the disease after taking ill.

He said the state's Ministry of Health had taken precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the disease. He explained that "Lassa Fever was first discovered in Borno in 1969 in Lassa village in Askira Uba Local Government Area."But since then, no single case was reported until now."

Mishelia said the ministry had quarantined all the people who had contact with the woman. "We are embarking on mass fumigation in the entire area to kill rats that might carry the disease. We are also placing all those who came into contact with the woman lately on surveillance," [he said].

Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic illness of between 2 - 21 days transmitted to humans via contact with food or household items contaminated with rodent urine or faeces.

Lassa fever has killed more than 150 people in West Africa, most of them in Nigeria since November 2015, according to World Health Organisation (WHO).

The signs and symptoms of Lassa fever typically occur after the patient came into contact with the virus. The majority of Lassa fever virus infections (approx. 80 percent); symptoms are mild and are undiagnosed. The mild symptoms include slight fever, general malaise and weakness and headache. In 20 percent of infected individuals, however, the disease may progress to more serious symptoms, including hemorrhaging in gums, eyes or nose, respiratory distress, repeated vomiting, facial swelling, pain in the chest, back, and abdomen, and shock. Neurological problems have also been described, including hearing loss, tremors, and encephalitis. Death may occur within 2 weeks after symptom onset due to multi-organ failure and the most common complication of Lassa fever is deafness.

Communicated by:
Olutayo Olajide Babalobi
Lecturer and Consultant Epizootiologist,
(One Health, Participatory Epizootiology and Veterinary ICT Research Group),
Department of Veterinary Public Health and Preventive Medicine,
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine,
University of Ibadan, Ibadan,

[An additional report on the above case coming from HealthMap Alerts on [Wed 1 Mar 2017] stated, "The state Commissioner for Health, Haruna Mshelia, at an emergency press conference said a 32-year old woman who resides in the village near the state capital had been diagnosed as having the fever.

"The victim fell sick last week and was admitted at a government hospital in Maiduguri, where a sample of her blood was taken to Lagos for test, after which results showed positive to the virus", Mr. Mshelia said. He however assured that he situation had been brought under control and that the victim "is responding to treatment". ("

As noted previously, the occurrence of sporadic cases of Lassa fever in Borno and other states in Nigeria is not surprising. Lassa fever remains a problem in large areas of Nigeria because the virus is endemic in rodents there. Virus transmission to humans occurs when people are in contact with the reservoir rodent host, the multimammate mouse (in the genus _Mastomys_) or their excreta. That's the reason why the health authorities advise people to prevent rodent access to their food materials. Transmission also occurs in health facilities when personal protection equipment is not employed and barrier nursing practices are not adequate to protect staff from blood and secretions of infected patients.

As noted in previous posts, prevention and control of Lassa fever in nature depends on control of the rodent reservoir, which occurs across Nigeria and beyond. Reduction of populations of this rodent will require active participation at the village level. That will necessitate mounting a public education program with support of rodent control technicians. Preventing entry of rodents into the home and keeping food materials tightly covered are helpful measures to prevent infection. Elimination of these rodents completely is probably not possible.

Images of _Mastomys_ mice can be seen at

Maps of Nigeria can be accessed at and - Mod.TY]

See Also
Lassa fever - West Africa (07): Nigeria (BA) 20170225.4864837
Lassa fever - West Africa (06): Nigeria 20170225.4862689
Lassa fever - West Africa (05): Nigeria (NA) 20170215.4842179
Lassa fever - West Africa (04): Liberia 20170209.4827934
Lassa fever - West Africa (03): Nigeria (RI) 20170122.4782917
Lassa fever - West Africa (02): Nigeria (NA) 20170118.4773375
Lassa fever - West Africa (01): Nigeria (OG) 20170101.4735363