The country has been thrown into panic following reported cases of the dreaded Lassa Fever Disease in some states. Worse still, there are indications that the disease is spreading to even more states.
Among the states affected so far are Ondo, Edo, Ebonyi, Imo and Kogi states, a situation which has left most Nigerians worried, but cautious of this very deadly scourge. Ten health workers have been affected in four states and three deaths have been recorded in Ebonyi.
Lassa fever is a haemorrhagic illness transmitted to humans through contact with food and household items contaminated by infected rodents. Person to person transmission can occur too in the absence of adequate infection control measures. Health workers are particularly at the risk of being infected when they do not adhere to infection prevention and control procedures.
A lot of organizations and schools are suddenly more health conscious by introducing the wash-your-hand-before-you-enter habit and keeping hand sanitizers at their reception halls. This is very encouraging and will go a long way in helping prevent this deadly disease from spreading more than it has. Family members of infected people are also advised to take extra caution, considering the alarming rate at which the disease spreads.
There is therefore the need for health authorities to raise the ante at this point and do a thorough sensitization exercise, not just in our state, but in the country generally, in a bid to make Nigerians aware of the risk factors associated with the spread of this disease. The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control should be committed in supporting all states' public health teams to prevent public health threats. They should make it paramount to isolate infected people and also dispose of their body fluids and excrements properly in order to reduce the hazard of infecting health workers and care givers.
The government should also step in, through the health sector by aiding the citizenry with fumigation. It is a very effective way of getting rid of these rodents and a general way of avoiding deadly epidemics, while individuals are advised to improve in their personal hygiene by keeping rodents out of their homes and keeping their food items properly covered at all times.
The Lassa fever outbreak can be controlled by adopting proper standard precautions in our homes, hospitals and communities.
No amount of caution exercised with a view to checking the further spread of this disease can be said to be too much, even as the people are urged to improve their personal hygiene.