Date of Award

Spring 4-28-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Primary Advisor

Dr. Brittany McConchie

Second Advisor

Dr. John Tompkins

Abstract

Lassa fever (LF) and Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever (EHF) are viral diseases endemic to West Africa.The etiological agent of Lassa fever is an enveloped virus from the Arenaviridae family and was first discovered in 1969 when two missionary nurses died of a mysterious illness in the town of Lassa in Borno state, Nigeria.1 This virus is animal-borne (zoonotic) and is carried by the animal vector Mastomys natalensis (multimammate rat). The Ebola virus is also zoonotic originating from fruit bats belonging to the Pteropodidae family.2 The first reported case of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) was a principal who was believed to have visited the Ebola river on his journey through the Democratic Republic of Congo. Annually, there are about 100,000 to 300,000 reported cases of Lassa fever, with about 5,000 deaths.1 Concurrently, the Ebola virus has raked in 11,310 reported deaths from about 28,616 suspected cases, 10% of which were health professionals.3 It is noteworthy, however, that the death toll associated with EVD is more sporadic and widespread than that of LF. Most infections can be attributed to person-person transmission in which healthy individuals get infected by coming in contact with the body fluids (urine, saliva, and semen) of the sick.1 Both the Lassa and Ebola viruses are pertinent in current public health discussions especially for their potential as bioweapons.1 ,2 Consequently, this paper seeks to discuss the structure and pathogenic mechanisms of both viruses, address current treatments and complications, and propose areas for further research and preventive measures.