Lassa fever: Combating The Vector and The Virus Of Death
Nigeria News examine the Lassa fever scourge and efforts of the government in combating it.
Lassa fever has resurfaced in some states in Nigeria and has since killed four persons in Lagos and Edo States.
About 150 other people have been kept under surveillance while three of the first 100 workers of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital that were in contact with the deceased patients had been tested positive.
The Chief Medical Director of LUTH, Professor Chris Bode said at a news conference jointly addressed with Lagos State Commissioner, Dr. Jide Idris that the ailment is under control.
In Yobe, no fewer than four persons had since been quarantined while efforts to stop the fever from spreading to other parts of the country is going on.
In Lagos, there is close monitoring of the people under surveillance while LUTH has also improved its facility to meet up with the international standard in containing the contagious diseases.
Professor Bode said that the hospital had since made public the available contacts and telephone lines in case of any emergency.
“There is no cause for alarm. People should not panic. We have drugs and there is assurance that if the fever is detected earlier in anybody, it would be cured. As a matter of fact the Resident Doctor that was infected by the fever virus is receiving treatment and in good health condition now,” he said.
But, will Lassa ever leave Africa when the vector live with the people? Lassa virus is transmitted from animals, mostly by the natal multimammate mouse (Mastomys natalensis or African rat).
According to findings, the rat has multiple tits and easily defecate on staple food such as gaari, yam flower and grains.
Soaking gaari as food is not abnormal in Nigeria but soaking it when it is contaminated with African rat faeces and urine could be dangerous, findings revealed.
Since it became viral in the social media that the consumption of uncooked contaminated garri could lead to developing Lassa Fever, many had refrained from eating the commonest food in Nigeria.
Almost all tribes in Nigeria take the Cassava product as “Eba” or soaked with sugar and groundnut but at present many had let go with gaari, perhaps until after the Lassa fever has been chased away.
“I have directed my children to stop soaking “gaari” for now. We can it the cooked one, called “Eba” but no soaking of gaari in my house for now,” a Lagos resident, Mr. Layi Adeloye said.
Lagos breeds rats but there are no enough evidence to show that they are multimmamate specie. Rats live in dark, dirty wet places and because of their omnivorous life, they hide close to the kitchen to devour both cooked and uncooked foodstuff.
In most homes, rats share bed with residents, yet people live healthily until recently that the outbreak of Lassa ravaged Lagos.
Before it will become epidemic, the government has to come up with instructions to sensitize the populace against the dreaded killer disease.
In January 2017, no fewer than eight states of the federation had cases of Lassa fever with over 500 reportedly cases. This later spread to 17 states with 105 people dead of Lassa fever.
The government urged Nigerians to live hygienically and ensured that the environment is always kept clean to wade off unwanted African rats.