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Experts: Nigeria’s Lassa fever outbreak unprecedented

Early doses of antiviral medicine usually work, but there’s no vaccine or cure for Lassa fever if it is caught too late.

Up to 300,000 cases a year are carried by rats in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.Picture: Pixabay.com.

PRETORIA - Health experts are calling the current Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria unprecedented.

The haemorrhagic virus is endemic to West Africa with annual outbreaks.

But this one in Nigeria is terrifying.

Lassa fever starts out looking like flu. In about a fifth of the cases, the blood vessels are so badly damaged the patient starts bleeding from the eyes, nose and gums.

Up to 300,000 cases a year are carried by rats in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

This year Nigerian authorities are dealing with a particularly lethal strain.

It’s killing a quarter of those who contract it.

The death toll is normally 1% of those infected.

Early doses of antiviral medicine usually work, but there’s no vaccine or cure for Lassa fever if it is caught too late.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)

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