Lassa Fever has joined the list of death-dealing diseases plaguing Nigerians in the last few years. It resurfaced again in 2016 shortly after medical personals in Nigeria had successfully won the battle over its Ebola Virus counterpart.
Its first case dates back to 1969 when a missionary nurse, Laura Wine fell ill with a mysterious disease she contracted from an obstetrical patient in Lassa, a village in Borno State, Nigeria. By 1972, the multimammate rat (Mastomys natalensis) was found to be the main reservoir of the virus in West Africa, spreading it through its urine and feces without exhibiting visible symptoms.
This disease is an acute viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus and is endemic in West Africa countries of especially Serria Leone, Republic of Guinea, Nigeria and Liberia, causing annual incidence of infection between 3000, 000 and 500, 000, resulting in 5, 000 deaths yearly.
A recent case involved two medical doctors and a pregnant woman at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano State. The doctor, a consultant Anaesthesia and House Officer were reported dead days after operating the pregnant woman who was suspected to be a primary carrier of the virus.
Causes and Spread
Lassa fever is spread by coming in contact with feces, urine, and saliva of infected rats. Also, direct contact with objects, household items and surfaces or eating foods contaminated by the feces, urine, and saliva of infected rats. It can also be contacted by person to person transmission by contact with feces, urine, saliva, vomit, vaginal discharge, breast milk or other body fluids of infected persons.
The symptoms of Lassa Fever include high fever, headache, sore throat, cough, and nausea. Others include swollen neck eyes and face, vomiting, diarrhea, body pain, and chest pain and in severe cases bleeding from the mouth and other body openings.
All of these happen because on entry, it infects almost every tissue in the human body. It starts with the mucosa, intestine, lungs and urinary system and then proceeds to the vascular system.
Keep your environment clean, cover and dispose of refuse wastes properly and block all holes to prevent the rat from entering the house.
Wash your hands regularly with soap and running Jing water and use hand sanitize when appropriate.
Do well to store food items properly with covered containers. More so, do not dry foods on the floor to avoid contamination.
As much as you can, set traps to eliminate rats and it is advised to own a cat which is its major predator.
Visit the nearest hospital if you notice any of the signs and symptoms. Early detection and treatment can improve your chances of surviving.
Health workers are advised to practice standard precautions at all times when they come in contact with patients and body fluids.
This is a corporate social awareness project by Hypestation Nigeria to help sensitize the general public on the endemic Lass Fever virus ravaging lives across Nigeria and other Western African countries.