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History: First discovered in 1969 in the town of Lassa, Borno State, Nigeria. Most recent outbreak spans November 2015 till date.
Description: A severe viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus which is carried by rats. Signs and symptoms are similar to that of the Ebola virus fever.
Incubation period: It is 6 to 21 days between being infected and when signs and symptoms are observed.
Signs and Symptoms: Fever, swelling of the face, tiredness, redness of the eyes, nausea, vomiting and stooling of blood, stomach ache, constipation, difficulty swallowing, abnormal heart beats and rates, cough, chest pain, difficulty in breathing, sore throat, impaired hearing and nervous discomfort.
1. Through bites of and contamination of food by rats, especially the multimammate rats (the rat with many breasts).
2. Through contact with body fluids (saliva, sweat, urine and blood) of, and sexual intercourse with infected persons.
Prevention: Maintain proper personal hygiene, keep hands clean, cook and wash foods and fruits properly before eating, keep rats away from home and food, avoid direct contact with infected persons, and report suspicious cases to healthcare workers.
Treatment: Infected and suspected persons must be admitted to isolation centers for proper care. Though Ribavirin is the antiviral drug for treatment, it is not available in local pharmacies and is not administered without the prescription of specialist medical personnel.
Healthcare Contact: 08093810105, 08163215251, 08031571667 and 08135050005.
About the Author:
Nnenna Okeke is a fine artist and writer. She currently writes for ConnectNigeria.com