Be careful: there’s an outbreak of Lassa fever in Nigeria

Be careful: there’s an outbreak of Lassa fever in Nigeria

We have just been informed that victims of Lassa fever have been spotted across 9 states in Nigeria. The states are Bauchi, Ebonyi, Edo, Delta, Imo, Kano, Ondo, Plateau and Taraba. The problem is that Lassa fever can only be prevented. It has no cure for now.

So far, it has affected 163 Nigerians and left 24 people dead, among them two medical doctors and a pregnant woman.

Make out a few minutes to contact your family, friends and associates on your phone, WhatsApp, Telegram, Messenger or any social medium with which you can reach out to them and please inform them to be careful. There seems to be little known and being said about the invasion of Lassa fever in Nigeria and this should not be so.

Lassa Fever is caused by a virus from the same family as Ebola. The incubation period of Lassa fever ranges from 2–21 days. The onset of the disease, when it is symptomatic, is usually gradual, starting with fever, general weakness and malaise. After a few days, headache, sore throat, muscle pain, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cough, and abdominal pain may follow. In about 20% of infected individuals, the disease may progress to more serious symptoms including hemorrhaging (in gums, eyes, or nose, as examples), respiratory distress, repeated vomiting, facial swelling, pain in the chest, back and abdomen and shock. Neurological problems have also been described, including hearing loss, tremors and encephalitis. Death may occur within two weeks after symptom onset due to multi-organ failure.

The most common complication of Lassa fever is deafness. Various degrees of deafness occur in approximately one-third of infections, and in many cases hearing loss is permanent. As far as is known, severity of the disease does not affect this complication: deafness may develop in mild as well as in severe cases.

Approximately 20% of patients hospitalized for Lassa fever die from the illness. However, only 1% of all Lassa virus infections result in death. The death rates for women in the third trimester of pregnancy are particularly high. Spontaneous abortion is a serious complication of infection with an estimated 95% mortality in fetuses of infected pregnant mothers.

Because the symptoms of Lassa fever are so varied and nonspecific, clinical diagnosis is often difficult. Lassa fever is also associated with occasional epidemics, during which the case-fatality rate can reach 50% in hospitalized patients.

So, we need to stay alert and inform as many people as we possibly can about this deadly disease. Everyone needs to keep their homes clean and unattractive to rats which are the main carriers of the infection.

Lassa Fever is spread by contact through the urine and faeces of infected rats and rodents. They may be house rats and they may be bush rats. The important thing is that everyone needs to be careful. People who eat rats should please stay away completely from the habit, at least for now.

With 24 people already dead in nine states and over 150 in real danger, this is the time to cultivate healthy habits that discourage rats from thriving in our homes. You can use rat gum or rat poison to get rid of them. And please don’t ever eat any food that is left over especially if it had been left uncovered and if there are plenty of rats around the environment. Those rats could have urinated or stooled in the food. There is no way of knowing but all efforts must be taken to minimize risks of contamination.

Again, if you find a dead rat around your house or your vicinity, do not pick it up with your bare hands. Use gloves or a discarded piece of cloth to pick it up and bury it with the cloth or burn it with the cloth. But please be careful not to dispose of the rat carelessly, anywhere or anyhow.

Everyone must begin to keep gutters and drainages clean, especially around the house. Don’t allow garbage or house waste to always accumulate in your home. Dispose every waste as soon as possible.

Additional security measures you might need is to properly cover foods in your house by using airtight containers in the storage of cooked food. Always ensure that your cupboards are locked and that you cover all known openings and holes in the house to ward off rats.

If anyone suddenly falls sick with fever, body ache, cough or vomiting, kindly visit your doctor immediately. Do not assume it is malaria and typhoid.

 And if you don’t have a personal or family doctor, you had better get one as a matter of importance and urgency. You can only do business when you are healthy.

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