This is to inform and sensitize the University Community and the general public about the outbreak of Lassa fever which is predominant now in Ekpoma. This is to emphasize on the awareness of Lassa fever and for us to take precautionary measures to prevent this disease.
Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) caused by the Lassa virus. The natural reservoir for the virus is the Mastomys natalensis rodent (commonly known as the multimammate rat). Other rodents have also been identified who carry the virus.
Lassa fever remains a major public health challenge in West Africa with Nigeria bearing the highest burden. Lassa fever occurs throughout the year but more cases are recorded during the dry season i.e. November through May.
Lassa fever is spread through:
1. Direct contact with urine, faeces, saliva or blood of infected rats.
2. Contact with objects, household items and surfaces or eating food contaminated with urine, faeces, saliva or blood of infected rats.
3. Person to person transmission by contact with blood, urine, faeces, vomits, semen, vaginal secretions, breast milk or other body fluids of an infected person.
Signs and symptoms of Lassa fever:
Lassa fever presents initially like any other febrile illness such as malaria. Its symptoms include fever, headache, sore throat, general body weakness, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pains, chest pain and severe cases, unexplainable bleeding from ears, eyes, nose, mouth and other body openings.
The time between an infection and appearance of symptoms of the disease is 2 to 21 days. Early treatment and diagnosis increases the chances of survival.
People most at risk are:
• People of all age groups who come in contact with the urine, faeces, saliva or blood of rats
• People living in rat infected environments which increases their chances of coming in contact with rats.
• People who consume potentially contaminated food stuff especially those left open overnight or dried outside in the open
• People who handle or process rodents for consumption
• People who do not perform hand hygiene when appropriate
• Relatives who care for sick person with Lassa fever at home
Mrs. T.A. Ayo-Ogbor
Above is for the information of the University community and the general public.
Edward U. Aihevba, FPISM, FNISM, FCAI MANUPA
Deputy Registrar, Information/Public Relations Officer