Lassa fever cases increase in Nigeria
Twenty-seven of Nigeria’s 36 states have reported increasing numbers of people infected with the Lassa fever virus. More than 700 suspected and confirmed cases have been reported this year. Although the total number of infected people is not large, there have been 75 deaths, or more than 10% of the total.
The risk for the general traveller is low. All the reported cases have occurred sporadically and are dispersed across multiple states.
This infection is transmitted to humans through contact with food or household items that are contaminated with rodent excreta or through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person. Travellers should avoid contact with rats, especially their urine and faeces. Travellers should also practice careful personal hygiene by washing their hands frequently especially when caring for sick patients who might have this infection. Although most infections are mild, Lassa fever can be a severe viral haemorrhagic illness in 1 out of every 5 infected people.