What is Lassa Fever?
The disease was first recognized in 1969 in northeastern Nigeria. The virus is acquired from African rodents and their secretions, primarily the Multimammate rat (Mastomys natalensis), its natural reservoir. A secondary person-to-person transmission can occur through contact with infected bodily fluids.
The illness is characterized by fever, pharyngitis, headache, chest pain, and diarrhea.
Leukopenia, proteinuria, and hepatic dysfunction may also be present. Permanent hearing loss is common – this disease is the most common cause of acquired deafness in West Africa. Reported case-fatality rates range between 15-25%.