The Federal Government has raised concern over the fresh Lassa fever outbreak, kindly take some few moments to learn about the virus and the current situation in Nigeria.
WHAT IS LASSA FEVER?
Lassa fever or Lassa hemorrhagic fever (LHF) is an acute viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus. It frequently infects people in West Africa and it results in 300,000 to 500,000 cases annually and causes about 5,000 deaths each year.
LASSA FEVER SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
After an incubation period of six to 21 days, an acute illness with multi-organ involvement develops with symptoms such as fever, facial swelling, and muscle fatigue, as well as conjunctivitis and mucosal bleeding.
The other symptoms arising from the affected organs could be Nausea, Vomiting (bloody), Diarrhea (bloody), Stomach ache, Constipation, Tachycardia (abnormally high heart rate), Cough, Chest pain, and Seizures.
Clinically, Lassa fever infections are difficult to distinguish from other viral hemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola and from more common febrile illnesses such as malaria.
It spreads to humans from rodents, specifically mice.
The virus is shed in their excreta (urine and feces), which can be aerosolized (scattered). Infection in humans typically occurs by exposure to animal excrement through the respiratory or gastrointestinal tracts. Inhalation of tiny particles of infectious material (aerosol) is believed to be the most significant means of exposure. It is possible to acquire the infection through broken skin or mucous membranes that are directly exposed to infectious material. Transmission from person to person has also been established.
CURRENT STATE OF LASSA FEVER IN NIGERIA
A statement issued yesterday by Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole indicated that eight states had experienced Lassa fever outbreak in the last six weeks in Nigeria. The affected states listed were Bauchi, Nasarawa, Niger, Taraba, Kano, Rivers, Edo and Oyo states. The minister gave the total number of suspected cases so far reported as 76 with 35 deaths.
According to the Director, Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Prof. Abdulsalam Nasidi, cases in Rivers State are currently under investigation.
· The Federal Government has launched an intense investigation into the fresh outbreak
· Drugs have been given to the affected states with free treatment
· The specific antiviral drug for Lassa fever has been sent to all the affected states
· Deployment of rapid response teams from the Federal Ministry of Health to all the affected states to assist in investigating and verifying the cases and tracing of contacts
· Clinicians and relevant healthcare workers have been sensitized and mobilized in areas of patient management and care in the affected states
· No travel restrictions will be imposed from and to areas currently affected
IN CASE OF SUSPECTED LASSA FEVER CASE
Family members and healthcare workers are advised to always be careful to avoid contact with blood and body fluids while caring for sick persons.
Healthcare workers or anyone seeing a patient suspected to have Lassa fever should immediately contact the state epidemiologist in the State Ministry of Health or call the Federal Ministry of Health using the following numbers:
08093810105, 08163215251, 08031571667, 08135050005.