Lassa fever was first discovered in the town of Lassa Borno state in 1969 and is named after the town. It is an acute viral haermorrhagic fever that lasts from 2- 21 days and is caused by a single strand of RNA virus belonging to the family Arenaviridae.
It is commonly transmitted to humans by rats through food or household items contaminated with saliva, faeces or urine of rats.
About 80 percent of infected individuals often show no symptoms of Lassa fever while a severe case of the disease adversely affects the kidney, liver and spleen in the human body.
Symptoms of Lassa fever include, high fever, vomiting, and hearing loss, continuous stooling, bleeding from the mouth, nose and vagina as well as tremors.
Lassa fever affects up to 500, 000 people yearly and is a disease common to West Africa.
There is a current epidemic of Lassa fever in the country with the states in the middle-belt often being the most affected. One person was confirmed dead as a result of Lassa fever in Enugu state yesterday.
Due to the prevalence of rodents in our environment and the apparent resurgence of the disease, it has become quite necessary to give out tips in order to avoid an epidemic and beat back Lassa fever in the country.
Listed below are several tips on how to avoid getting killed by a rat in your own home;
- Avoid Eating Rats – While many people in the rural areas may disagree, rodents are not a viable and safe source of food and nourishment. Avoiding rodents as a food source is the most effective way of not contracting Lassa fever.
- Control/Eliminate Rat Population in Your Home – do this to avoid rats gaining access to your home in the first place. This can be achieved by placing rat traps, buying a cat or employing the services of a professional exterminator if you can afford one.
- Empty Your Trash Regularly – clean spaces are an anathema to rats and as such it is difficult to find rats in squeaky clean spaces. The first port of call for an invading rat is the waste bin. Endeavour to empty your waste bins before bed every night if you want to avoid Lassa fever.
- Store Your Food Properly – food should be properly stored in containers; especially raw food. Rats have an excellent sense of smell and can trace a food source from a mile away. Proper storage of food and water can help you avoid a rat infestation.
- Proper Hygiene is Key to a Healthy Life – Health is wealth, even rats know this. When your environment is always clean it becomes difficult for disease vectors to thrive in it. Keep a clean environment today and live a healthy life.
- Avoid Contact with Infected Persons – Lassa fever can easily be transmitted through body fluids and as such unnecessary contact with an already infected person exposes you to a 100 percent risk. Contact should only be made when putting on protective gear like masks, goggles, gloves and hospital gowns.
- Always Stay Updated – Be conversant with the news especially in periods of epidemics. This will inform you better on steps to take to save yourself and your loved ones.