Sex, Breastfeeding, Experts Warn About Other Ways To Transmit Lassa Fever

Experts have warned that if persons who have been treated for Lassa fever engage in unprotected sex within six weeks of surviving the infection, they risk transmitting the virus to others.
Director of Research and Head, Microbiology Department, Nigeria Institute of Medical Research, Lagos, Dr. Rosemary Audu, disclosed this to PUNCH HealthWise on Thursday sequel to the recent outbreak of Lassa fever in Olokoro community, Umuahia South Local Government Area of Abia State.

She also noted that nursing mothers who survive the viral infection can transmit the residual virus to their babies if they engage in breastfeeding before the physician clears them to do so.

Audu warned that the chances of Lassa fever survivors spreading the virus after their discharge are high, saying they are “viable carriers” of the virus six weeks after they may have completed their treatment.

She noted that an infected person can transmit the virus majorly through body fluids such as semen and breast milk, and harped on safe sex within the period until the survivor tests negative to the virus.

According to the expert, a cross-sectional study carried out on Lassa fever patients within an average of six weeks after they had been discharged, showed the patients still tested positive to the virus.

Audu said the virus was “quite endemic in Nigeria,” and that a study carried out between 2017 and 2018 to know if there were other sources of transmission aside rodents, revealed that human-to-human transmission was becoming a factor.

She said, “It is possible that patients could still be transmitting the virus while recovering.

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