Estimates of numbers of Lassa fever cases in Plateau Province, Nigeria, suggest it is common illness

A rough estimate of the annual number of cases of Lassa fever suggests it may be a relatively common illness. In addition to the estimated 300,000 cases per year, there may be as many as 5,000 deaths. Most of the infected people (around 80 percent) have a mild illness that may go unreported. However, 20 percent have a severe life-threatening infection involving multiple systems. In these cases, about half the severely infected people die.

Since this infection is transmitted to humans through contact with food or household items that are contaminated with rodent excreta, travellers should avoid contact with rats, especially rat urine and faeces. Travellers should also practice careful personal hygiene such as frequent hand washing and avoid contact with sick patients.

Visit our Health Library for more information on exposure to and the prevention of Lassa Fever.

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