What Is Lassa Fever?

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Lassa fever is a viral hemorrhagic fever caused by an RNA virus of the arenavirus family. It is most common in a large region of West Africa, and is named after the Nigerian town where it was first discovered by Western medical professionals. Travelers to West Africa staying in homes or areas of poor sanitation or crowding, as well as health care and laboratory professionals serving in health care facilities in West Africa, are most at risk. Infection prevention methods are critical to reducing infection of health care workers and spread within health facilities. Lassa fever may appear with signs and symptoms like Ebola or Marburg hemorrhagic fever viruses, and until these viruses are ruled out, suspected cases must be managed with infection control precautions to prevent contact with blood, body fluids, and contaminated surfaces. These include:
  • Basic hand washing or alcohol-based sanitizing between patients.
  • Use of additional barrier personal protective equipment including an impermeable long-sleeved gown, gloves, and face mask with eye protection when working within 3 feet of an affected patient.
  • Safe injection practices, safe laboratory handling, and safe mortuary procedures.
Keyword: lassa fever