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Infectious Diseases

Lassa Virus

04/22/2003

Question:

I am doing a report on lassa virus. I can not find any information about the virus. I don`t know how it affects people, the history, or symtom. Could you please help me?

Answer:

Lassa fever is an acute viral illness that occurs in West Africa. The illness was discovered in 1969 when two missionary nurses died in Nigeria, West Africa. The cause of the illness was found to be Lassa virus, named after the town in Nigeria where the first cases originated. The virus, a member of the virus family Arenaviridae, is a single-stranded RNA virus and is zoonotic, or animal-borne. Signs and symptoms of Lassa fever typically occur 1-3 weeks after the patient comes into contact with the virus. These include fever, retrosternal pain (pain behind the chest wall), sore throat, back pain, cough, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, conjunctivitis, facial swelling, proteinuria (protein in the urine), and mucosal bleeding. Neurological problems have also been described, including hearing loss, tremors, and encephalitis. Because the symptoms of Lassa fever are so varied and nonspecific, clinical diagnosis is often difficult. For more go to the link below.

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Lassa Fever

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Response by:

Benita Jackson, MD, MPH, FACPM
Assistant Professor, Epidemiology
College of Public Health
The Ohio State University