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Let’s Join Hands To Fight Lassa Fever: Written by Dr. Ejike Udeze

Lassa fever, a disease that has it’s name from Nigeria, let’s kick it out!

Lassa fever is a bleeding disease that is caused by a virus known as the Lassa virus. The first incidence of this disease was recorded in a Nigerian town of Lassa, Borno state hence it’s name. It is hence not an imported disease like Ebola. But like Ebola it is a highly deadly disease, in Nigeria alone it has killed more than fifty people of the hundred or so infected patients since the current outbreak.

It is spread by rodents, by a particular specie of rat. Probably when these rats go feeding on edibles, they drop their infectious faeces, urine, and other bodily fluids on foods humans eat. The call then is for everyone to embark on environmental sanitation. Keep our surroundings clean.
Quoting the Operation Manager, ASWAMA, Awka, ‘make the environment uncomfortable for rats’. Clean the gutters around you, clear them of all refuses. Exclude contacts with any form of rats, stop them from getting to your stored foods, your stores, houses, everywhere. Operation #kill-all- the-rats-before-they-kill-us should be implemented.

Lassa can also be gotten from contacts with infected humans. Hence it is paramount to spread the word of utmost personal hygiene. Topmost of which is hand washing. Washing of hands before eating, after coming back home everyday, and intermittent use of hand sanitizers could be lifesaving. Note Lassa must not show for face, it is not everyone that is infected that falls sick and starts showing symptoms. So one can never be too careful. After touching people body, shaking hands, hugging and everything, when you come back simply take a bath or at least wash your hands first thing.

Lassa virus causes what is known as a viral hemorrhagic fever. The symptoms might include fever, joint and muscle pain, bleeding from any body orifice. Nausea and vomiting, runny stomach especially bloody diarrhea. Lassa can affect most major organs of the body. Cough, coughing of blood, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, seizures, etc could all arise from Lassa fever.

Preventing the infection by the Lassa virus is the best form of treatment of this disease. Currently the Nigerian government at the three tiers is taking preemptive actions aimed at limiting the spread of the virus. Various state governments likewise are doing the same especially in areas of environmental sanitation and public sensitization.

Lassa fever can be treated with more than 50% recovery rate. Quarantine and hospitalization will be the first steps in treatment of suspected cases of Lassa. Patients showing symptoms and signs suggestive of Lassa are isolated and barrier-nursed. Contact tracing is carried out. Here recent contacts of the diagnosed patient with Lassa are called in and closely monitored till after the incubation period has elapsed.

Let’s prevent the further spread of this disease which has currently been diagnosed in 17 states nationwide. Let’s say no to Lassa, keep yourself and your environment clean, keep yourself safe.

Ejike Udeze is a health personnel at Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH). Ejike is always in search of new medical discoveries and breakthrough. You can reach him on Facebook with his name “ Ejike Udeze. “


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