Reports of outbreaks of Lassa Fever in some States in Nigeria leaving many dead and others hospitalized. You therefore need to be appropriately informed so as to protect your life and the lives of other around you.
Lassa fever is caused by the Lassa virus which is spread by rats that live in large numbers in West, Central, and East Africa. They carry the virus in their urine and faeces and live in homes and areas where food is stored. The disease can be contacted by:
- Ingestion of foods and drinks contaminated by the saliva, urine and faeces of infected rats
- Catching and preparing infected rats as food
- Inhaling tiny particles in the air contaminated with infected rat urine or droppings
- Direct contact with a sick person’s blood or body fluids, through mucous membranes, like eyes, nose, or mouth.
Early symptoms of the disease which occur within 3 weeks of coming in contact with the virus include fever, headache, chills, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, sore throat, backache, and joint pains. Late symptoms include bleeding from the eyes, ears and nose, bleeding from the mouth and rectum, eye swelling, swelling of the genitals and rashes all over the body that often contain blood. The disease could progress to coma, shock and death.
Lassa fever can be treated. The earlier a person presents himself/herself for medical treatment the better the outcome.
For prevention and control of Lassa fever, the general public is therefore advised to:
1) Avoid any form of contact with rats.
2) Observe good personal hygiene including regular hand washing with soap and running water.
3) Ensure proper waste disposal and environmental sanitation.
4) Food manufacturers, handlers and vendors are to store foods in rat proof containers and cook all foods thoroughly.
5) Discourage rodents from entering the house by blocking all possible entry points.
6) Kindly report any cases of above symptoms or persistent high fever not responding to standard treatment for malaria and typhoid fever to the nearest health center.
Health workers are also advised to be at alert, wear personal protective equipment, observe universal basic precautions, nurse suspected cases in isolation and report same to the LGA or Ministry of Health immediately.
For more information please contact the Directorate of Disease Control, Lagos State Ministry of Health on 08037170614, 08023169485.