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Sierra Leone News: Lassa fever confirmed in Guinea

At least one person is dead and more than two dozen others are being monitored, said authorities in Guinea as they announced the first death from Lassa fever in more than two decades last weekend. Critics questioned why the government was only now making the news public when the victim died Jan. 11.
This death has heightened anxiety about another hemorrhagic fever in the West African country where Ebola epidemic first emerged.
Further complicating the situation was the fact that the Guinean citizen died across the border in Liberia — the same way that ebola initially spread. Authorities, though, said there was nothing to fear. “None of the patient’s contacts in Liberia became sick or tested positive for Lassa,” the statement said.
There is no approved vaccine for Lassa fever, whose symptoms are similar to Ebola. After starting as a fever with aches and pains it can progress to headache, vomiting and diarrhea. According to the World Health Organization, severe cases can cause victims to bleed from the mouth and nose.
Like Ebola, Lassa fever can be spread through contact with the bodily fluids of sick people. Humans also can contract it from eating food that has been tainted by the urine or feces of rodents.
Health officials in Sierra Leone said they are monitoring the situation and the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) said they too are monitoring the situation closely as they are fully prepared to take all necessary precaution not to allow a repeat of Ebola in the MRU countries.
Dr. Sakoba Keita, who coordinated Guinea’s national response to the Ebola outbreak from 2014-2016, told private radio stations that the new Lassa fever case was the country’s first known one since 1996.
The disease, however, has long existed in West Africa. Nigerian authorities have reported more than 440 suspected cases throughout the country so far this year, according to the non-governmental organization known as ALIMA. At least 40 people are believed to have died from Lassa fever there. AT/10/2/18
Monday February 12, 2018.

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