You may have seen recent media reports of confirmed cases of Lassa fever in Nigeria.Research also shows that the disease is also endemic in some West African countries like Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, etc.
Lassa Fever is a virus, transmitted when a human comes into contact with an infected rat’s feaces, urine, or the bodily fluids of an infected human. The Mastomys Rat carries the virus. These rats breed rapidly and bear many offspring, increasing the potential for spread of the virus from rats to humans. Further, these rats are often found in human homes. Transmission through contaminated food is common, as the rats can leave excretions in food stores.
Symptoms show up anytime between one and three weeks after infection and include fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, facial swelling, protein in the urine, encephalitis, and mucosal bleeding.
Rapid Response Committee
The Federal Government has created the Lassa Fever Rapid Response Committee, whose goal is to control and prevent the spread of the disease. Public health officials have also asked Nigerians to stop burning bushes as this drives rats out of the bush and into nearby houses.
It is pertinent to mention that most people recover from Lassa fever. The fatality rate is one percent. However, there is a high risk of deafness even from the mildest of cases of the disease.
Nigerians are reminded of the need for meticulous hand washing and other enhanced hand/food hygiene practices, and to store food away from possible rodent contamination.
Be Informed and Stay Safe.