LASSA FEVER - WEST AFRICA (03): NIGERIA (RIVERS)
Posted on 23RD JAN 2017
tagged Lassa Fever, West Africa, Nigeria
Date: Thu 19 Jan 2017
Source: Famagusta Gazette (Cyprus) [edited]
A fresh case of Lassa fever, a disease [virus] transmitted by rodents, has been confirmed by officials in Port Harcourt, Nigeria's oil hub and capital of Rivers State, indicating that the disease has spread to the country's south east region. Rivers State commissioner for health Theophilus Odagme told reporters on [Wed 18 Jan 2017] that a patient who was recently diagnosed has been expertly managed at a private hospital and discharged.
The oil-rich Nigerian state is collaborating with the World Health Organization, the private hospital, and family of the Lassa fever victim to ensure the process of decontamination and contact are effectively carried out, the official said. He attributed the quick recovery of the patient to early treatment, saying the government was also on top of the situation.
The state government has urged all hands to be on deck to manage future cases of Lassa fever. The Nigerian government has mandated the National Center for Disease Control to investigate, prevent, and control the possible outbreak of the disease.
Lassa fever is usually transmitted to humans when they are exposed to food or water contaminated by the saliva and excreta of infected rats. In some cases, Lassa fever has similar symptoms to those of malaria.
Altogether, 6 people have died due to the spread of Lassa fever in the West African country since November . On [Mon 16 Jan 2017], Nigerian authorities confirmed 4 deaths in the cases of Lassa fever in the central state of Nasarawa [see ProMED-mail archive no. 20170118.4773375].
Last month [December 2016], a senior health practitioner and a mortuary attendant at the Federal Medical Center in Abeokuta, the capital of the south western state of Ogun, also died of the disease [see ProMED-mail archive no 20161221.4713167]. More than 80 people were killed by a Lassa fever outbreak early last year  in Nigeria.
Olutayo Olajide Babalobi
Lecturer and Consultant Epizootiologist
(One Health, Participatory Epizootiology and Veterinary ICT Research Group)
Department of Veterinary Public Health and Preventive Medicine
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
University of Ibadan
ProMED-mail from HealthMap Alerts
[Lassa fever virus remains a problem in Nigeria because it is endemic there. The virus has been reported in 23 states, including Rivers State, where there appears to be just a single case at this time. Last year as of week 40 (week ending 7 Oct 2016), 17 cases were reported in Rivers State, of which 5 were confirmed and 5 died.
Virus transmission to humans occurs when people are in contact with the reservoir rodent host, the multimammate mouse (in the genus _Mastomys_), or their excreta. Transmission also occurs in health facilities when personal protection equipment is not employed and barrier nursing practices are not adequate to protect staff from blood and secretions of infected patients.
As noted in previous posts, prevention and control of Lassa fever in nature depends on control of the rodent reservoir, which occurs across Nigeria and beyond. Reduction of populations of this rodent will require active participation at the village level. That will necessitate mounting a public education program with support of rodent control technicians. Preventing entry of rodents into the home and keeping food materials tightly covered are helpful measures to prevent infection. Elimination of these rodents completely is probably not possible.
Images of mastomys mice can be seen at http://www.ispot.org.za/node/255877.
Maps of Nigeria can be accessed at http://www.un.org/Depts/Cartographic/map/profile/nigeria.pdf and http://healthmap.org/promed/p/15995. - Mod.TY]
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