Finding Long Lasting Solutions.

Lassa Fever is no news to us in Nigeria. We know that humans primarily become infected from direct contact with urine and faces of rat which contains the virus, through touching soiled object exposure to open cuts or sores and eating of contaminated food. Also, it can be transmitted from person to person following exposure to the virus in the blood, tissue, urine, faces or other bodily secretions of an infected person. Lastly, it can be transmitted from person to person in the hospital if the health worker is not wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when managing suspected cases.

When we look at Lassa Fever from 2018-2020 according to Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), can we say we are making progress? We know that this disease usually occurs more during the dry season from November – April but seldom during the rainy seasons. Since it has high morbidity and mortality consequences, there is an urgent need for Government Agencies and Development Partners to take urgent actions in curbing it because it has both economic and health security consequences.

Death has gone up to 70 from Week 1 – Week 6, 2020, when you compare it to 2019, the same period the number of deaths was 69 and 43 in 2018.

Comparative Table of Week 1-Week 6, from 2018 -2020

According to the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC),” The drug of choice is Ribavirin, an antiviral agent, administered orally or parenterally. Prognosis is best if this treatment is commenced early, usually within six days of onset of symptoms. High-quality supportive treatment should also be instituted based on clinical assessment of patients, which improves patient outcomes.”.

Some of the prevention and control measures include:

  • Continued advocacy and the sensitization of communities, States, their leaders and other stakeholders.
  • Strengthening of the surveillance system for early detection, isolation and confirmation of cases.
  • Promoting good environmental and personal hygiene. This is to discourage rodents from entering homes and having access to foodstuff. Effective measures include storing grain and other foodstuffs in rodent-proof containers, disposing of garbage far from the home, and maintaining clean households.
  • Reminding caregivers to be careful and maintain standard precautions to avoid contact with blood and body fluids while taking care of an infected person.
  • Avoiding nosocomial transmission of infections in health-care settings, with health care workers observing all necessary IPC precautions when caring for patients, regardless of their presumed diagnosis.
  • Ensuring staff in Lassa fever treatment centres apply extra infection control measures to prevent contact with the patient’s blood and body fluids and contaminated surfaces or materials.
  • Following safe injection practices at every stage.
  • Training health care workers in the laboratory’s inappropriate specimen receipt and handling, and ensuring all patient samples are properly labelled on the collection with appropriate details included such as hemorrhagic manifestations.
  • Ensuring safe burial practices are adhered to for anybody that died (or is suspected to have died) of Lassa fever.

What do you think Nigeria’s Government and Development partners should do to win this war? Share your opinion with us.

Data Source: Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)

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