Lassa Fever Alert!!! Moms, Be Wise!
No doubt, you must have heard about Lassa Fever and its attacks in the news for the last few days.
What exactly is it about?
Should you be worried?
Lassa fever or Lassa hemorrhagic fever (LHF) is an acute viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus and first described in 1969 in the town of Lassa, in Borno State, Nigeria. The viral diseases was first discovered in 1969 when two missionary nurses died in a village in Nigeria.
Lassa fever is a virus that had been killing Nigerians before the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease in the country and it will be advisable for people to know its symptoms.
As in Ebola, experts say the symptoms of Lassa fever occur one to three weeks after the patient comes into contact with the virus.
Well, this is the umpteenth time the country will be battling with an outbreak of Lassa fever.
Statistics from the Federal Ministry of Health indicate that in 2012 alone, Nigeria recorded over 1,944 cases with 207 deaths from Lassa fever.
Also in 2013, three states in the Northern part of the country recorded over 200 cases and 40 deaths. Majority of the causalities were health workers who contracted the viral disease while treating infected persons.
The Federal Government after a Lassa fever outbreak in Oyo state in 2014 warned that over 29 million Nigerians are at risk of the infectious disease.
Nigerians must take special care as Lassa fever is common to West Africa and it is an endemic disease in Nigeria.
The symptoms may include general malaise, weakness, and headache in mild cases. When untreated, the infection may progress to respiratory distress, bleeding in the gums, repeated vomiting, facial swelling, pain in the chest, back and abdomen as well as shock.
Neurological problems such as hearing loss, tremors, and encephalitis are symptoms of severe cases and if left untreated, death may occur within two weeks after symptom onset due to multi-organ failure in an infected person.
The most common complication of Lassa fever is deafness. Various degrees of deafness occur in approximately one-third of infections, and in many cases hearing loss is permanent. As far as is known, severity of the disease does not affect this complication: deafness may develop in mild as well as in severe cases.
Preventing Lassa fever is first about knowing the source.
The disease is spread by exposure to and eating of food contaminated with rat dropping or urine.
“It is also spread by direct contact with the blood, urine, faeces or other bodily secretions of a person with Lassa fever. Those who contract this virus must have touched or eaten something that had been touched by an infected rat.
Residents must keep a clean environment that would ensure that rats do not have access to food.
This disease is carried by rodents, adopt simple hygienic procedures on keeping foods, plates and pots in the house. Clean the environment so that it does not invite rats.
It is important to promote good hygiene. People should block holes and other openings that could allow rats, which is the animal vector of the disease to enter the house.
Health workers must protect themselves while treating Lassa fever patients or suspected cases.
A suspected case is when a patient presents with a fever that won’t go after several treatments and management.
If a fever persists after all medications and therapies have been applied, such individuals should visit the nearest health facility.