Lagos hit by Lassa fever

Lassa claims second Lagos casualty.

Lagos has been hit by an outbreak of Lassa fever, a virus transmitted to humans through rats, claiming its second victim.

The city currently has some 20 suspected cases of the acute viral haemorrhagic virus which is passed on to humans from contact with food or household items contaminated with the excreta or urine of infected rats.

The local health ministry has urged Lagos residents to improve their sanitary conditions and to refrain from dumping waste indiscriminately. The ministry is also attempting to trace people that may have had contact with the latest victim.

The first known case of the virus occurred in 1969 in the town of Lassa in the northern Nigerian state Borno. Often difficult to distinguish from ebola, symptoms of Lassa fever include vomiting, diarrhea, facial swelling, muscle fatigue and nausea.

The virus results in 300,000 to 500,000 cases annually in west Africa and causes about 5,000 deaths each year. In addition to Nigeria, cases are recorded in other west African nations, namely Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and the Central African Republic.