The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has said the current outbreak of Lassa fever has affected 15 states with 105 laboratory confirmed cases, three probable cases and 31 deaths.

This is not the first time Nigeria is being ravaged by the virus as over 100 people died in 2016.

Here are some tips about the viral disease and how to contain it.

LIKE EBOLA LIKE LASSA 

Information is power to conquer, not power to intimidate.

Bounce News seeks to arm with you with necessary information to combat the disease and not to scare you.

Ebola and Lassa have so many things in common including, mode of transmission, symptoms, and origin.

While Ebola was named after a River in Congo in 1976, Lassa is named after a village in Borno state, where the disease broke out in 1969, killing two missionary nurses.

Lassa fever is a zoonotic disease, meaning that humans become infected from contact with infected animals, which are mainly rats.

Like Ebola, Lassa is deadly, and is estimated to kill 5,000 people in West Africa, every year.

CURRENTLY IN 15 STATES

The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has said the current outbreak of Lassa fever has affected 15 states with 105 laboratory confirmed cases, three probable cases and 31 deaths.

According to him, the cases are in Bauchi, Plateau, Taraba, Nasarawa, Benue, Kogi, Ebonyi, Rivers, Imo, Anambra, Edo, Delta, Ondo, Osun and Lagos states.

10 healthcare workers were affected in four states; seven in Ebonyi State; with one health worker each from Nasarawa, Kogi and Benue states.

From the 31 deaths, four health workers died as a result of the disease; three deaths were recorded in Ebonyi and one in Kogi.

CAN BE TRANSMITTED VIA SEX

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the disease can be transmitted via sexual intercourse with infected persons, with such cases reported in the past.

However, it is usually contracted from exposure to urine or faeces of infected Mastomys rats. It may also be spread between humans through direct contact with the blood, urine, faeces, or other bodily secretions of an infected person.

Person-to-person transmission occurs in both community and health-care settings, where the virus may be spread by contaminated medical equipment, such as re-used needles.

Lassa fever occurs in all age groups and both sexes. Persons at greatest risk are those living in rural areas where Mastomys are usually found, especially in communities with poor sanitation or crowded living conditions.

HOW TO KNOW IF YOU HAVE CONTRACTED LASSA FEVER

One of the tricky issues with this disease is that it is largely asymptomatic, meaning a patient may be a carrier of a disease or infection but experience no symptoms at all.

The good news, however is that, for most asymptomatic cases, the disease may resolve itself and “die a natural death” or eventually show up symptoms which must be combated immediately.

According to Centre for Disease Control (CDC), signs and symptoms of Lassa Fever typically occur one to three weeks after the patient comes into contact with the virus. For the majority of Lassa fever virus infections (approximately 80%), symptoms are mild and are undiagnosed. Mild symptoms include slight fever, general malaise and weakness, and headache.

In 20 percent of infected individuals, however, disease may progress to more serious symptoms, including hemorrhaging (excessive bleeding in gums, eyes, or nose, as examples), respiratory distress, repeated vomiting, facial swelling, pain in the chest, back, and abdomen, and shock.

Neurological problems have also been described, including hearing loss, tremors, and encephalitis. Death may occur within two weeks after symptom onset due to multi-organ failure.

INCURABLE

Lassa, like many other diseases bedevilling the world today, has no cure. However, ribavirin, an antiviral drug, has been used with commendable success in Lassa fever patients.

It has been shown to be most effective when given early in the course of the illness, but patients also receive supportive care consisting of maintenance of appropriate fluid and electrolyte balance, oxygenation and blood pressure, as well as treatment of any other complicating infections.

PREVENTABLE

Prevention of Lassa fever is possible. That is basically built around promoting good “community hygiene” to bar rats from entering homes.

Grains and other foodstuffs should be stored in rodent-proof containers, while disposing garbage far from the home, maintaining clean households.

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