Rat has continued to cause plenty of trouble for West African nations, with Nigeria among the top nations ravaged by Lassa fever, an acute viral hemorrhagic illness of 2-21 days duration caused by Mastomys rats. 

Nigeria and some other nations in West Africa have made efforts to bring an end to the disease, but the unhygienic attitude of the people has been blamed for the spell. 

Now, the battle to contain Lassa Fever will get more support from the World Health Organization (WHO).

WHO announced the increase in its efforts to support West African countries in a statement by its spokesman, Collins Boakye-Agyemang, in Abuja.

Boakye-Agyemang said that while the outbreaks were occurring during the Lassa fever season, in countries where the disease was endemic, the speed of escalation was of concern.

According to him, Lassa Fever outbreak has affected 16 states in Nigeria, with about 213 confirmed cases; including 42 deaths, which marked a significant increase.

According to him, Nigeria experienced its worst outbreak of Lassa fever and four health workers have been infected so far, in this latest outbreak.

He noted that WHO was scaling up its efforts to support federal authorities, National Council Disease Control (NCDC), and the affected Nigerian states, in responding to the outbreak.

WHO's spokesman also said that an important focus was on early detection and confirmation of suspected cases.

Providing optimal supportive care and ensuring infection prevention and control measures, in designated health care facilities in the affected states were also priority to WHO, he said.  

”WHO has intensified its technical assistance and is supporting coordination, enhanced surveillance, epidemiological analysis and risk communication.

Other African Nations

“WHO is also mobilising experts to support case management and infection prevention and control.

”A total of 12 cases have been confirmed to date in Benin, Guinea, Liberia and Togo, including two deaths, with more suspected cases being investigated.

”WHO is assisting health authorities in these countries with contact tracing and provision of medical and non-medical supplies with technical and financial resources as needed for case management, risk communication and logistics.

”We are concerned by the high number of cases so early in the Lassa fever season, which is expected to last another four more months.

“WHO is working with health authorities in the five affected countries and will ensure that health workers have the capacity to detect cases and regional spread of the disease was monitored, “he said.

He emphasised that WHO had set up a regional coordination mechanism, for countries to report any suspected case of Lassa fever, to expedite the flow of timely information.

This, according to him, will assist to assess the situation, recommend actions and help organise assistance.

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”WHO has also reached out to the six other at-risk countries; Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Mali, Niger and Sierra Leone, and is supporting prevention and readiness activities, as needed.

‘‘WHO will continue to advise all countries in the Lassa fever belt, to enhance their preparedness and response capacities.

“Especially for early case detection, laboratory confirmation, case management under recommended barrier nursing, risk communication and community engagement.

“Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness that occurs predominantly in West Africa, after human exposure to the urine or faeces of infected Mastomys rats.

”More than 80% of Lassa fever cases are rodent-to-human transmission. Person-to-person transmission, occurs in both community and health-care settings.

”Prevention of Lassa fever is based on promoting good “community hygiene,” to discourage rodents from entering homes," he added.

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