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What to do when you suspect you have Lassa fever

Lassa fever frequently reported early signs are fever, physical fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, headaches, abdominal pains or sore throat and swelling of the neck or face can sometimes be observed.

Studies suggest the virus invades several organs where 1 in 5 infections result in severe disease such as the liver, spleen and kidneys.

According to World Health Organisation about 80 percent of people who become infected with Lassa virus have no symptoms. Meanwhile, here are what to do when you suspect you have the virus.

Avoid contact with other people

 Seek health advice immediately

 Drink plenty of fluids

 Ribavirin, an antiviral drug, can be an effective treatment if given early

Meanwhile, getting medical treatment early will improve your chances of surviving

Lassa fever is a viral illness; it’s transmitted to humans mainly through handling rats, food or household items contaminated by rats’ urine and feces.

The virus can spread between people through direct contact with the body fluids of a person infected with Lassa fever, as well as contaminated bedding and clothing.

The virus has an incubation period of between six to 21 days, can also be transmitted through contact with an infected person via bodily fluids and excretions: blood, urine, saliva, sperm, vomit, faeces.

Lassa fever cases since the beginning of the year in Nigeria has recorded 365 positive cases and 47 deaths reported from 23 states across the country.

According to the week five situation report on the disease released by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) , the 23 states are Edo, Ondo, Bauchi, Borno, Ebonyi, Nasarawa, Kano, Kogi, Kaduna, Adamawa, Cross River, Delta, Osun, Ogun, Abia, Taraba, Plateau, FCT, Gombe, Enugu, Kebbi and Anambra.

Three states, Ondo, Edo and Ebonyi, remain the states with the most affected cases.

WHO says that prevention of Lassa fever relies on promoting good “community hygiene” to discourage rodents from entering homes. Effective measures include storing grain and other foodstuffs in rodent-proof containers, disposing of garbage far from the home, maintaining clean households and keeping cats.

In health-care settings, staff should always apply standard infection prevention and control precautions when caring for patients, regardless of their presumed diagnosis. These include basic hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, use of personal protective equipment (to block splashes or other contacts with infected materials), safe injection practices and safe burial practices.

 

ANTHONIA OBOKOH

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