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UK Embassy Warns that “Black Death Plague”, Lassa Fever Case is Soaring…

The World Health Organisation this week described the spread as the largest Lassa fever outbreak ever recorded in Nigeria.

Those travelling to Nigeria and other countries in West Africa should be aware that there is no vaccine to protect against the viral haemorrhagic fever which has been likened to the Black Death.

WHO advised the number of confirmed cases means it is likely to spread nationally and to the neighbouring countries of Benin, Ghana, Liberia and Togo.

The UK Embassy website cautions travellers who are planning on going to Nigeria.

It says: “There are continuing reports of Lassa fever in several states. You should monitor local media for updates.”

This incurable viral haemorrhagic fever is caused by a virus found in rat droppings and then contaminating food.

The disease can also spread from human-to-human contact, particularly in hospitals with inadequate control measures and infection prevention.

Lassa fever is almost impossible to diagnose as 80 percent of people who become infected have no symptoms, according to the WHO.

Furthermore, one in five infections will result in severe diseases affecting key organs like the liver, spleen and kidneys.

The virus begins like the flu for the first couple of weeks with fevers, headaches and overall weakness.

Death can follow within two weeks of the virus taking effect.

WHO says distinguishing between Lassa fever and the Ebola virus is difficult and definitive diagnosis is only possible with testing that is available in labourites capable of cell isolation and antigen detection.

Even though there is no vaccine, the use of ribavirin is effective if given to an infected person early on.

The US Embassy has warned those travelling to Togo to beware of coming into contact with an infected person.

The embassy says on the site: “Consult a medical professional if you have been in direct contact with an infected person within the past three weeks and if you have symptoms of Lassa fever.”

Since 1980 there have been eight confirmed cases of Lassa fever in UK travellers who visited endemic countries, but there is no evidence that it spread to the UK from these cases.

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