Lassa fever


Lassa fever (also Lassa fever) is an infectious disease that occurs in western Africa. It is caused by the Lassa virus and transmitted from rodents to humans. In most cases, Lassa fever is mild, but sometimes fatal. Timely therapy can therefore save the lives of the patients. Here you read all important information about infection routes, symptoms and the treatment of Lassa fever.

ICD codes for this disease: ICD codes are internationally valid medical diagnosis codes. They are found e.g. in medical reports or on incapacity certificates. A96ArtikelübersichtLassa fever

  • description
  • symptoms
  • Causes and risk factors
  • Examinations and diagnosis
  • treatment
  • Disease course and prognosis

Lassa fever: description

Lassa fever is an infectious disease and is one of the so-called haemorrhagic (bloody) forms of fever. These include virus-induced Ebola fever, yellow fever, or Bolivian hemorrhagic fever. They are all very similar in their symptoms, making it difficult for doctors to make the right diagnosis quickly.

The pathogen responsible for the Lassa fever was first discovered in 1969 in Lassa, a city in Nigeria. Therefore, the disease carries the name of this city.

Lassa fever: spreading

Lassa fever is endemic in some West African countries. These include Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, Benin and Nigeria. An endemic area is a region in which a pathogen is permanent and can not be removed. In the case of Lassa fever, the virus can not be displaced from the region as it is transmitted to humans by rodents (the African tycoon, Mastomys natalensis). In some areas all live rats carry the Lassa virus and not all of them can be eliminated.

Lassa fever: illness

It is estimated that about 300,000 people a year become infected with Lassa fever. Of these, 80 percent of the cases are mild or completely asymptomatic. About one to two percent of the patients die.

Lassa fever disease rarely occurs outside the endemic area. Often, the infected are travelers who have recently been in West Africa and infected with Lassa fever. Since 1974, five cases of Lassa fever have occurred in Germany. All patients had been infected with the virus abroad. Two of them died.

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Lassa fever: symptoms

The Lassa fever can be mild or even asymptomatic, as well as very difficult to a fatal outcome. The disease begins after an incubation period of 6 to 21 days. This is the time between the infection with the pathogens and the onset of symptoms.

Lassa fever begins with common signs of illness that are flu-like. These include:

  • fatigue
  • Headache and body aches
  • fever
  • Pain behind the sternum
  • to cough
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Conjunctivitis

For the Lassa fever as a cause of disease usually speak a painful inflammation of the throat and a rarely occurring rash, which stands out a bit from the skin level.

If there is a severe course of Lassa fever, the following symptoms often occur from the second week of illness:

  • Water retention (edema) in the eyelids and face
  • mucosal bleeding
  • Fluid accumulation in the lung and pericardium (pleural and pericardial effusions)
  • Lose consciousness
  • slowed heartbeat (bradycardia)
  • low blood pressure (hypotension)

In severe cases, circulatory and renal failure as well as severe bleeding and cerebral involvement in the form of encephalopathy may occur.