Lassa fever in West Africa

Released: August 21, 2017


What is Lassa Fever?

Lassa fever is a viral haemorrhagic fever illness carried by infected rats (rodents). It is spread through contact with objects soiled by urine or feces of infected rats.  Rats often go unnoticed living in homes and areas where food is stored.  Lassa virus may also be spread between humans through direct contact with the blood, urine, feces or other bodily secretions of a person infected with Lassa fever.

Symptoms of Lassa fever are usually gradual and include:

The disease can progress with symptoms of:

There is no vaccine or medication that protects against Lassa fever infection.

Where is Lassa fever a concern?

Lassa fever is a known risk in West Africa.  It occurs in Benin, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Nigeria as well as other West African countries.

In 2017, the World Health organization has confirmed cases and/or outbreaks of Lassa fever in the following countries:

For up to date information on affected countries, please visit the World Health Organisation, disease outbreak news on Lassa fever.

You are at greatest risk if you are:

How can you protect yourself from Lassa fever?

Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic at least six weeks before you travel.

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