Since the recent outbreak of Lassa Fever in Bauchi in November 2015, 10 Nigerian states including Bauchi, Taraba, Oyo, Edo, Plateau, Nasarawa, Rivers, Niger, Kano and Gombe have been affected.
Unfortunately 40 people have died and 80 people have been hospitalized.
To avoid further spread of this virus we all need to be alert and take responsibility is our various environments. These are some of the things you need to know about the virus.
Lassa Fever is caused by a virus called Lassa Virus. The virus belongs to a group of viruses which cause hemorrhagic fevers such dengue fever, ebola fever, yellow fever etc. The virus is also characterised by bleeding disorders and can progress to shock and death in many cases.
How It Spreads
Lassa fever lives and multiplies in a particular type of rat called the Natal multimammate mouse which is found in sub-Saharan Africa.
The virus is contained in the urine and stool of rats. If the urine of the rats contaminates exposed food and humans the food, they can contract the disease. Breathing in the dried stool can also lead to being infected.
The virus spreads from person to person through direct contact with body fluids-saliva, nasal discharge, blood of infected persons etc.
The Symptoms You Should Know About
Lassa Fever’s symptoms can be very tricky. It is usually similar to malaria and typhoid fever. These are some of the symptoms a victim experiences
• Sometimes vomiting and diarrhoea
• Yellowness of the eye balls.
• As the disease progresses, some organs may fail
• Bleeding may occur into the skin or/and from gums, nose, into the eyes.
• Organ failure.
• About 1% of all infections end up in death.
How to Prevent Lassa Fever
Avoid Rats. Avoid contact with them, cover your food so they don’t come in contact with them. Do not eat rats
Isolate infected persons. And use of masks, gloves, gowns, goggles etc when attending to infected persons.
Keep a clean house and environment.
All persons suspected of Lassa fever infection should be admitted to isolation facilities and their body fluids and excreta properly disposed of. Early supportive care with rehydration and symptomatic treatment improves survival.
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