Nigerian doctors take steps to halt Lassa fever epidemic

A nurse and doctor stand by a patient in a Lassa fever ward. Photo : REUTERS

NEWSROOM (ADV) – Nigerian doctors said on Monday that measures were being taken to stem the spread of the Lassa epidemic that erupted in Nigeria.

The recent reappearance of Lassa fever cases is worrisome, Olusegun Olaopa, president of the National Association of Internal Medicine (NARD) told the press in Abuja, the Nigerian capital.

A total of 172 potential cases were reported, 35 of which were confirmed by the Nigerian Center for Disease Control between 1 and 13 January 2019.

“NARD continues to do its utmost to support the government’s efforts, and public health officials trust our medical teams to respond to any threat to public health,” Olaopa said.

Lassa fever is a viral disease caused by the virus of the same name. It is usually transmitted to humans through direct contact with infected African plurimammary rats (Mastomys natalensis), with their urine or faeces.

It can also be transmitted indirectly through contact with household objects or food contaminated with saliva, blood or urine of rats, as well as through direct person-to-person contact.

This disease is endemic in West Africa, where epidemics occur periodically in parts of Nigeria.

Lassa fever has similar symptoms to many common diseases in the region, such as malaria or typhoid fever. These symptoms include fever, pain in various parts of the body, headaches, convulsions, breathing difficulties and diarrhea.

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