From Abel Leonard, Lafia
The nasarawa state government has raised the alarm about the outbreak of Lassa Fever in the state as two peoleo are confirmed positive with the virus.
This was disclosed on Friday by the permanent secretary, ministry of health, Dr. Janet Angbazo In the conference hall of the ministry in lafia, the state capital sensitising the public on the need to take precautionary measures to curtail the spread of the virus in the state.
“At the moment two people are tested positive for the virus and are receiving treatment, three persons based relationship with the carriers of the virus are been quarantined and contact tracing is still on going”. she added.
She further said efforts are ongoing to sensitize people living in communities and villages who are mostly affected because of lack of clean hygiene environment, while advising them to keep their environment healthy.
Daily Sun reports that that Lassa fever is an acute viral illness that occurs in West Africa, the illness was discovered in 1969 when two missionary nurses died in Nigeria, and the virus is named after the town in Nigeria where the first cases occurred.
Dr. Angbazo while educating the public said Lassa fever is endemic in parts of west Africa including S/erra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria; however, other neighboring countries are also at risk, as the animal vector for Lassa virus, the “multi-mammate rat” (Mastomys natalensis) is distributed throughout the
The permanent secretary also highlighted the method of transmission saying the reservoir, or host, of Lassa virus is a rodent known as the “multi-mammate rat” (Mastomys natalensis). Once infected, this rodent is able to excrete virus in urine for an extended time period, maybe for the rest of its life.
“Transmission of Lassa virus to humans occurs most commonly through,
Ingestion or inhalation, the rat shed the virus in urine and droppings and direct contact with these materials, through touching soiled objects, eating contaminated food, or exposure to open cuts or sores, can lead to infection.”
“Mastomys rodents are sometimes consumed as a food source and infection may occur when rodents are caught and prepared.” she said.
Dr. Angbazo also explained the possible symptoms of the virus saying it typically occur between 1-3 weeks after the patient comes into contact with the virus, while also advising the public to visit the facilities of the primary health care in the state if such signes is noticed.
She however, gave some precautionary measures which include wearing protective clothing, such as masks, gloves, gowns, and goggles; using infection control measures, such as complete equipment sterilization; and isolating infected patients from contact with unprotected persons until the disease has run its course.
Furthermore, she said educating people in high-risk areas about ways to decrease rodent populations in their homes will aid in the control and prevention of Lassa fever.
On the treatment of the virus Dr. Angbazo said an antiviral drug, has been used with success in Lassa fever patients. It has been shown to be most effective when given early (particularly, within the 1% 72hrs) in the course of the illness.
“Other outbreaks of Cholera, measles & meningitis could occur in this same period ” she said.