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Lassa fever: Anambra is at alert, says Commissioner

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Following the reported cases of rising cases of contagious diseases across the nation, Anambra state Commissioner for Health, Dr Vincent Okpala, has assured that the Ministry is alert and fully prepared to respond to any outbreak of Lassa fever in the state. Okpala in a chat with newsmen in his office complex, Awka said there was no incidence of Lassa fever in the state, just as he outlined the dangers of the disease in our society.

While maintaining that Lassa fever remained a major public health challenge in West Africa with Nigeria bearing the highest burden, he explained that it affects people of all age groups, who come in with above conditions

On how the disease is spread, he said, “People are infected when they come in contact with objects, household items and surfaces or eating food contaminated with urine, faeces, saliva or blood of infected rats.

“It is spread through direct contact with urine, faeces, saliva or blood of infected rats, especially people living in rat-infested environment also has increased chances of coming in contact with rats.“People who consume potentially contaminated food stuff especially those left open overnight or dried outside in the open”, he noted.

The commissioner said the disease symptoms include fever, headaches, sore throat, general body weakness, coughing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle and chest pains.He added, “In severe cases, unexplainable bleeding from ears, eyes, nostrils, mouths and other body openings were observed,…the time between the infection and appearance of symptoms of the disease ranges from 3 to 21 days”.

He emphasised that early treatment and diagnosis increase the chances of survival, and urged people to maintain proper sanitary conditions in their environment to prevent the spread of the diseaseHe said the aliment occurs throughout the year, but however explained that more cases are recorded during dry season from Nov. to May, with 81 cases reported from six states.


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Lassa feverVincent Okpala
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