Lassa fever is a serious infectious disease caused by a rodent-borne virus (arenavirus). Lassa fever, which is transmitted though contact with the urine, faeces, or saliva of rodents, is largely confined to West Africa.
Symptoms appear after an incubation period of three to 21 days with fever, headache, muscular aches, and a sore throat. Later, severe diarrhoea and vomiting develop. In extreme cases, the condition leads to fatal heart or kidney failure.
Treatment of Lassa fever is with the antiviral drug ribavirin, and serum containing antibodies to the virus.
Lassa fever is also known as Lassa hemorrhagic fever (LHF) and is an acute viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus. It was initially described in 1969 in the town of Lassa, in Borno State, Nigeria.
The Lassa Fever is a member of the arenaviridiae virus family. Similar to Ebola, clinical cases of the disease had been known for over a decade but had not been connected with a viral pathogen. The infection is endemic in West African countries, and causes 300,000–500,000 cases annually, with approximately 5,000 deaths.
For a detailed technical article about Lassa fever see: Arenaviruses