Following the confirmation of two cases of Lassa fever on Sunday 26th February 2022, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has confirmed 12 new additional cases after further tests were conducted by the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research.
This brings the number of confirmed cases to be 14, with one death recorded so far, and 13 active cases.
According to a statement released by the Ghana Health Service and signed by the Director General Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, “a total number of 97 contacts have been identified and efforts are underway to identify more contacts”
On Sunday, the GHS disclosed that the first case was a 40-year-old trader, who was unwell for a period of about two weeks and finally died at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital.
The second case is a contact of the fatal case and is currently on admission but is very stable.
About Lassa fever
According to the Africa CDC,
- Lassa Fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness that is endemic in some countries of West Africa. For example, Benin, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria.
- The incubation period of Lassa fever ranges from 2-21 days. It is transmitted to humans via content with items (food or household) contaminated with infected rodent urine or faeces. Person-to-person transmission may occur after exposure to virus in the blood, tissue, secretions, or excretions of a Lassa virus-infected individual. In hospital lacking adequate infection control measures, person to person infections is possible. Case fatality rate among hospitalized patients with severe cases of Lassa fever is 15%.
- The signs and symptoms of Lassa Fever is usually gradual. It starts with fever general weakness, and malaise. After a few days, headache, sore throat, muscle pain, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, cough, and abdominal pain may follow. In severe cases facial swelling, fluid in the lung cavity, bleeding from the mouth, nose, vagina or gastrointestinal tract and low blood pressure may develop. Deafness occurs in 25% of patients who survive the disease. In half of these cases, hearing returns partially after 1-3 months. Death usually occurs within 14 days of onset in fatal cases. About 80% of people who become infected with Lassa virus have no symptoms.
- Ribavirin, an antiviral drug, has been used with success in Lassa fever patients. Patients should also receive early supportive care with rehydration and symptomatic treatment. Primary transmission of the Lassa virus from its host to humans can be prevented by avoiding contact with Mastomys rodents, putting food away in rodent-proof containers and keeping the home clean help to discourage rodents from entering homes. When caring for patients with Lassa fever, further transmission of the disease through person-to-person contact or nosocomial routes can be avoided by taking preventive precautions against contact with patient secretions.