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Lassa fever is unheralded problem in West Africa

Lassa Fever is a zoonotic viral haemorrhagic fever endemic across sub-Saharan western Africa. This means it is an animal disease that can be spread to humans, with symptoms that include high fever and (sometimes) bleeding. The primary reservoir is the multimammate mouse, Mastomys natalensis, however new evidence is emerging that other rodents also carry the disease, such as the African wood mouse species Hylomyscus pamfi in Nigeria, and the Guinea multimammate mouse Mastomys erythroleucus. Most infections of Lassa fever occur from direct or indirect contact with infected rodents. Lassa fever can also be spread from human to human through contact with infected fluids, such as blood, although this can be prevented through the use of barrier nursing techniques. As human to human transmission can occur within communities as well as in health-care settings, the level to which appropriate barrier nursing can be used is dependent on local resources, living conditions, and sanitation.

Geography: West Africa
Reference: Birmingham, K., and Kenyon, G. 2001. Lassa Fever Is Unheralded Problem in West Africa. Nature Medicine, 7: 878.