Posted on 08TH JUN 2018
tagged Lassa Fever, West Africa; Sierra Leone

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

Date: Tue 5 Jun 2018
Source: Awoke [edited]

The surveillance supervisor of the Lassa Fever Unit at the government hospital in Kenema, Lansana Kanneh, said the rate of Lassa fever infection in the Kenema district is increasing at an alarming rate. In 2017, in Kenema District, the Lassa Fever Unit recorded 17 cases and 11 died. From January to May 2018, 18 cases have been recorded and 7 have died. He said the unit is expecting more cases.

Kanneh attributed the high rate of death to delayed arrival at the hospital. He said people continue to self-medicate, visit "quack" doctors or engage in traditional remedies, and they arrive at the hospital half dead. Kanneh said lassa fever is an infectious disease that can affect anyone, all tribes, old and young, male and female. The disease is caused by a small germ, invisible to the naked eye, called the Lassa virus. Like other diseases, Lassa fever can present differently; some people will become slightly ill but others will die from the disease.

Lassa fever was discovered in Sierra Leone in 1972 in Panguma in the Lower Bambara chiefdom, Kenema district. It has been discovered in other parts of the country including Koinadugu, Tonkolili and Bombali districts with the exception of Western Area. Presently, it is prevalent in Dodo, Nongowa and Lower Bambara chiefdoms.

Lassa fever is spread by rats and you can also get lassa fever from someone who already has the disease or someone who has recently had the disease. "You can get Lassa fever if you leave your food or water uncovered, so a rat can urinate [or defacate] in it, and then you eat this food," he said.

Lassa fever can be prevented by keeping your compound clean and clear of bush to deter rats. Dispose of garbage correctly, away from the house. Do not leave food lying on the floor. Keep food and water covered to prevent contamination by rats. Trap rats, but do not touch dead rats with your bare hands. Use a shovel, stick or plastic. Keep a cat at home to keep away rats.

[byline: Saffa B Moriba]

communicated by:
ProMED-mail from HealthMap Alerts

[Lassa fever virus (LFV) is endemic in West Africa, but ProMED-mail has not posted reports of cases in Sierra Leone since 2013. However, the above report indicates that the incidence is accelerating, from 17 cases with 11 deaths to 18 cases and 7 deaths so far this year (2018). It is not clear how these unfortunate victims acquired their LFV infections in the hospital or elsewhere, probably from environments contaminated by the rodent reservoir hosts (the multimammate mouse (_Mastomys ntalensis_ and _M. erythroleucus_) and the African wood mouse (_Hylomycus pamfi_). LFV infections are usually not fatal; some 80 per cent of human infections are asymptomatic. Non-fatal cases may have severe multisystem disease, where the virus affects several organs such as the liver, spleen, and kidneys. The incubation period of Lassa fever ranges from 6-21 days. More detailed information can be accessed at

Images of the _Mastomys natalensis_ mouse, the rodent reservoir of Lassa fever virus, can be seen at and _M. erythroleucus and _Hylomycus pamfi_ at: - Mod.TY

A map of Sierra Leone is available at

See Also
Lassa fever - Sierra Leone: (SO), RFI 20130906.1926142
Lassa fever - Sierra Leone (04): (NO) 20101111.4104
Lassa fever - Sierra Leone (03): (NO) 20101017.3770
Lassa fever - Sierra Leone (02): (NO) 20101008.3662
Lassa fever - Sierra Leone: (NO) 20101001.3555