A state in Northeastern Nigeria reported its first outbreak of Lassa fever in 48 years, according to WHO.
Borno state reported on a patient with the potentially fatal acute viral hemorrhagic disease, which was confirmed Feb. 28, WHO spokeswoman Charity Warigon told Infectious Disease News. As of March 4, the patient, a Zabramarri village woman, was the only one confirmed. WHO added that 54 people who had contact with her will be monitored for 21 days to help contain the disease.
Lassa fever is transmitted to humans through contact with food or other items contaminated by the urine or feces of rodents. Person-to-person transmission occurs through bodily fluids.
When asked if a rodent was the vector to blame in the Borno state case, Warigon said that was “the strongest hypothesis.”
Borno is in an area of Nigeria affected by the violence and unrest caused by the extremist group Boko Haram, which is trying to overthrow the nation’s government and create an Islamic state. Despite that, Warigon said medical personnel had no problem reaching and treating the Zabramarri woman.
Symptoms of Lassa fever can include headache, sore throat, muscle pain, chest pain, diarrhea, cough and abdominal pain. Severe cases can result in facial swelling, fluid in the lungs, low blood pressure and bleeding from the mouth, nose, vagina or gastrointestinal tract.
A previous Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria resulted in 273 suspected infections and 149 deaths from August 2015 to May 2016.
Disclosure: Warigon is a WHO spokeswoman.