While in class during medical school, my lecturer described fevers that led to bleeding (a.k.a haemorrhagic fevers). Of special interest was Lassa Fever because it was first described in 1969 from a patient seen in the town of Lassa, Borno State Nigeria. What a discovery!
Rat poisons and rat traps have become essential commodity as their prices have gone up,either due to inflation or thelassa fever out break.
There have been reports of suspected, probable and confirmed cases of lassa fever in the recent past and in the news on February 9, 7 new cases were reported in Edo, Ondo and Bauchi States. On February 15 the day after Valentine’s, 8 new cases were reported in Nassarawa State.
I have lost loved ones who were medical practitioners to it and today I received calls from my loved ones to be more cautious at my duty post being that Bauchi and Nassarawa sounded really close to my base in Kano. Such love!
What Lassa Fever Is:
Lassa fever is an sudden febrile illness with bleeding and death in severe cases. It is caused by the lassa fever virus which incubates for a period of 6-21 day before manifestation of symptoms.
About 80% of human infections have no symptoms and those infected at this point don’t manifest illness. The virus clears out spontaneously.
The remaining 20% have severe multiple organ and multiple system disease. Here, the virus affects organs and systems. These are the cases we dread.
Symptoms of Lassa Fever:
The disease starts gradually with fever, general weakness, malaise and then headache, sore throat, muscle pain, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, cough and then bleeding from the mouth, gums, nose, vagina, intestines, skin or eyes with associated low blood pressure.
The lassa fever virus is found in rats. The particular species is the ‘multi-mammate rat’ called Mastomys natalensis.
For me I would rather avoid rats completely than go hunting down what rat is multi-mammate or not multi-mammate.
With this outbreak of lassa fever, preventive measure need to be put in place.
Prevention of Lassa Fever :
THE GOLDEN RULE IS TO PRACTICE AND PROMOTE GOOD HYGIENE!
1. Avoid contact between rats ands humans.
2. Keep house and environment clean.
3. Cover all food and water properly.
4. Cook all food thoroughly.
5. Store foodstuffs in rodent proof containers.
6. Block all rat hideouts and entrances.
7. Do not sun dry food stuffs in places accessible to rats.
8. If you suspect rats have urinated on or eaten any food, discard it.
9. Family members should always be careful to avoid contact with blood and body fluids while caring for sick persons.
10. Dispose garbage far from the home, maintain clean households.
11. Effective measures include storing grain and other food stuffs in rodent-proof containers.
NOTE: Physicians should practice international safety practices.
Everyone should practice proper handwashing and hand sanitization.
If you use rat poisons and rat traps, beware!!
If rat poisons are used indiscriminately, rat poisons or the dead rats could infect and affect the whole house. Handle dead rats with right degree of caution and discard with immediate alacrity!
If you dry food items on the floor, stop the practice for now except you can guarantee that rats will not encroach on the food items and play ten-ten or urinate on it.
We did EBOLA!!
We can do LASSA FEVER too!
Yes WE CAN!!
I love you,I love your health.
Your favourite family physician,