Lassa Fever series: Lassa Fever is a zoonotic disease
Yes! Lassa fever is indeed a Zoonotic disease.
It is a disease that is primarily transmitted from animals (rat) to humans. The rats are scientifically known as Mastomys rodents and they shed the Lassa virus in their urine and fecal droppings.
At some points in our lives, most of us in Nigeria have had to deal with rats living in and around our homes. They also scavenge on food that is poorly stored and usually urinate or poop on such food, thereby contaminating such objects, food and other household materials. Therefore, a person can be infected with Lassa virus when he/she comes in direct contact with these contaminated food and materials.
Direct contact or primary transmission with from rats to humans could involve the following;
- Touching contaminated objects and materials, eating contaminated food or contact with cuts and sores on the body.
- A person may also come in contact with the virus through contaminated aerosols. This means that transmission can occur if the person inhales tiny particles in the air contaminated with rodent excretions. When rats are caught and prepared for food, direct transmission may also occur
Secondary transmission of Lassa fever may also occur from person-to-person in all age groups or sex. This type of transmission occurs when a person comes into contact with virus in the blood in one or more of the following ways;
- When a person comes in contact with blood, secretions, or excretions of an individual infected with the Lassa virus. This occurs mainly in healthcare settings or between individuals caring for sick patients or anyone who comes into close contact with a person carrying the virus. However, there has to be exchange of fluid and secretions for transmission to occur from person-to-person.
- The virus also may be spread in contaminated medical equipment, such as reused needles.
- Also, sexual transmission of Lassa virus has been reported
For starters, we have basically shared with you the basic means of transmission of Lassa virus and fever.
Next we will be giving a little history of the disease and how it affects our present health and environment. For example, did you know that Lassa virus was first discovered and named after a town in Northern Nigeria?
Watch out for the next in our Lassa fever series…