- -Blank NEWS Online (NIGERIA) – By Ted ATAGBAZA:
To compliment the efforts of the State government on measures to curb the spread of the dreaded Lassa fever virus in Nigeria, the Board of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, DESOPADEC, under the leadership of Evang. Michael Diden (Chairman) and Bashorun Askia Ogieh (MD/CEO), has mandated the Medical Health and Safety Unit of the Commission to embark on an enlightenment campaign in all mandate areas of the Commission, on the epidemiology and control of Lassa fever.
Briefing the staff at the Commission’s Headquarters in Warri recently, the Head of the Medical Health and Safety Unit, Dr. Michael Ekotogbo, who led the other staff of the Unit on the enlightenment campaign while informing all of a confirmed case of the virus in Warri said, “Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic fever, a member of the Arenaviridae family, which is an enveloped, single-stranded, bi-segmented RNA Virus that is zoonotic or airborne”.
He explained that the virus is spread by a “multimammate rat”, a rat with many breasts, but advised that since one would not easily distinguish it from other rats, all rats within our vicinity should be exterminated.
He listed the transmission modes to include direct contact with materials or eating food that has been contaminated by the urine or droppings from the infected rat; cuts or sores; airborne transmission; person-to-person body contact; through breast milk, etc.
The symptoms of Lassa fever which typically occur 1-3 Weeks after the patient comes in contact with the virus, according to Dr. Ekotogbo, include fever, headache, facial swelling, conjunctivitis, mucosa bleeding, nausea, blood in vomit, blood in stool, cough, chest pain amongst others.
Emphasizing that those living in rural areas where you have poor sanitation or crowded living conditions should be wary of the virus, he cautioned that amongst other measures, all persons suspected of Lassa fever infection should be admitted to isolation facilities and their body fluids and excreta properly disposed of; declare war on rodent population and avoid contact with them; put food away in rodent proof containers; keep the home generally clean and discourage the use of rodents as a food source.
In addition, Dr. Ekotogbo advised staff to imbibe the hand washing culture and the use of hand sanitizers while reducing as much as possible, hand shakes with people. He also advised staff to steer clear of any coughing or sneezing persons to avoid airborne transmission.
It is pertinent to state here that the Health minister, Dr. Osagie Ehanire had in a recent report stated that 27 States of the federation including Delta State already have reported cases of the virus with about 47 deaths recorded.