With confirmed cases in Bauchi, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu, Kano, Nasarawa, Ogun, Rivers, and Taraba states with recorded deaths in Imo, Kogi, Ondo and Plateau states among others, there is no denying the existence of Lassa Fever in Nigeria. The ‘Its not my portion’ mentality of Nigerians shouldn’t come to play here. Therefore, arm yourselves with these vital information to enable you live healthily. Here are 10 informative facts about Lassa fever every Nigerian must know.
1.The disease got its name from Lassa, a village in Borno State where it was first identified in 1969 and occurs more in the dry season than in the rainy season.
2.The Lassa virus is caused by a species of rodents called the Natal multimammate rat, the common African rat, or the African soft-furred rat.
3.The virus is transmitted when the droppings, that is the urine or faeces of the rat – the natural reservoir for the virus – comes in contact with foodstuffs or in the process of the rat accessing grain stores, either in silos or in residences.
4.The rodents live in houses with humans and deposit excreta on floors, tables, beds and food. Consequently the virus is transmitted to humans through cuts and scratches, or inhaled via dust particles in the air.
5.In the early stages, Lassa fever is often misdiagnosed as common cold, typhoid or malaria, and as a result, many patients fail to receive appropriate medical treatment. The onset of the illness is typically mild, with no specific symptoms that would distinguish it from other febrile illnesses.
6. In 80 per cent of cases, the disease is without symptoms but in the remaining 20 per cent, it takes a complicated course. It has an incubation period of six to 21 days after which an acute illness develops.
7.Early signs include fever, headache and general body weakness, followed by sore throat, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhoea in some cases. After four to seven days, many patients will start to feel better, but a small minority will present with multi-organ involvement.
8.Death from Lassa fever most commonly occurs 10 to 14 days after symptom onset. Non-specific symptoms are facial swelling, and muscle fatigue, as well as conjunctivitis and mucosal bleeding.
9.There are three ways by which the virus can be treated and also prevented from further spread. These are implementation of barrier nursing, which is isolation of victims, tracing of people that have come in contact with sufferers as well as the initiation of treatment with the only available drug, Ribavirin. The latter is only effective if administered early, within the first six days after disease onset
10.To avoid contracting the disease, the primary source of transmitting the disease to humans should be prevented. This can be possible through avoiding contact with rats – particularly in the geographic areas where outbreaks happen. Putting food away in rat-proof containers and keeping your home clean help with discouraging rats from entering your home.