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It is one of the basic requirements for healthy living for a man to exercise adequate and timely protection toward the environment he lives in and what he eats; failure to observe this may result to unwanted diseases such as Lassa fever.
Lassa fever is an extremely fatal, old-world, viral hemorrhagic illness named after the Lassa town (in the Yedseram River Valley) in Borno State where it was originated in the year 1969. The Lassa virus spread through West African countries, from Nigeria to Liberia, Sierra-Leone, Guinea and the Central African Republic through viremic travellers. The virus enters through the human body through the bloodstream, lymph vessels, respiratory tract, and/or digestive tract and can be transmitted to human beings following contamination of broken skin or with the urine droppings of rats that live around homes in rural areas off endemic countries.
Its symptoms are nausea, bloody vomit, bloody diarrhoea, stomach ache, constipation, hearing deficit, seizures, swallowing difficulty, cough, chest pain, and meningitis, among others. Usually about 10 days, patients who will survive begin to defervesce 2 to 3 weeks after onset of disease but patients who have greatest risk of dying usually develop shock, agitation and sometimes grand mal seizures. This kind of disease usually occurs more in the dry season than in the rainy season and it becomes dangerous when the fever is delayed and the symptoms are ignored, hence, the need for immediate check-up and treatment when any of these symptoms are noticed.
Almost specific treatment is still available for Lassa fever and early diagnosis of this illness that kills 15% to 20% of patients especially women in their third semester, is still difficult in most Nigerian health care centres.
As of 2nd March 2009, seven cases of Lassa fever, including 2 deaths, were confirmed in the states of Ondo and Edo. Between December 2008 and 5th of March 2009, 93 cases in FCT and Nassarawa was recorded, and most recently in Yola, Adamawa state, a medical personnel working at the Federal Medical Centre lost his life to this dreadful disease.
Lassa virus affects approximately 100,000 to 300,000 people in West Africa which calls for the need to be more vigilant and precautious when it comes to the surroundings; if all it takes is keeping clean in order that more lives will not be swept away by this terrible disease caused by rodents, then a clean environment shouldn’t be far-fetched. Keep rodents out of homes and food supplies so that they do not leave dropping in the food; maintain personal hygiene, put food away in rodent-proof containers, trap the rodents and keep the home clean. The advantage of sterilizing equipments cannot be over-emphasized in this case and most importantly, when in contact with an infected person, wear gloves, masks, laboratory coats, and goggles. Besides, cleanliness is next to Godliness.

Tola Ojo


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