Lassa fever is an acute, infectious, disease often accompanied by symptoms such as high fever, muscle pain, headaches, bleeding and death in severe cases. It is a viral disease caused by Lassa fever virus and is highly contagious.
Recently, there has been Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria which has gone on now for about six weeks. This was confirmed on Wednesday, the 6th January, 2016 in Abuja by the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole when he stated that within the past 6 weeks, Bauchi, Nasarawa, Niger, Taraba, Kano, rivers, Edo, and Oyo have all experienced the deadly disease.
He stated that the government has put in place strategies to stop the spread of the disease and reduce the mortality rate among the affected. These strategies include immediate release of adequate quantities of ribavirin, provision of the specific antiviral drug for Lassa fever to all the affected states for prompt and adequate treatment of cases, and deployment of rapid response teams from the Federal Health Ministry to all the affected states to assist in investigating and verifying the cases and tracing of contacts.
The minister advised the general public to remain calm and to be careful. He urged people to quit open drying of food, he advised that all food be properly covered and kept away from the reach of rodents; rats. He also advised family members of infected people whilst they care for the sick to avoid contact with body fluids. He urged that all suspicious cases be reported immediately to avoid spread of Lassa fever and further loss of lives.
The Lagos state ministry of health also has already alerted residents last week on how to protect themselves and others against this deadly disease. The Lagos state ministry has urged people to exercise the following measures for prevention and control of the disease.
- Avoid rat-human contact and human-rat contact.
- All suspected cases, that is: Cases with symptoms similar to that of Lassa fever, should be immediately reported to the closest health center.
- Health workers, family members are advised to be extremely careful to avoid contact with body fluids of infected persons.
- Observing proper personal hygiene and ensuring the environment is clean and wastes properly disposed.
At the moment, 40 lives out of the reported 86 cases have been lost. To prevent further loss of lives, as the government and other health bodies are playing their part, let us play ours by taking heed to these precautions and encouraging those around us to do same.