Only a few days ago, Port Harcourt residents were hit with the shocking news of the death of Dr Levi Njamala, of the BMH specialist hospital, located at Old GRA, who had reportedly died from the now deadly and dreaded Lassa fever virus (a virus carried by rats) he contracted from a patient. Since then more than 40 more persons have been reportedly killed by Lassa fever across the country after contact with the virus through fluids (blood and urine) of carrier rats and infected persons. Only a few months ago, Nigeria had fought and contained the spread of the deadly Ebola virus which killed thousands of people in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia and it seems like Nigeria may be poised for another war yet.
Nevertheless, in characteristic Nigerian fashion, here are 5 ridiculous things that people have said about the Lassa Fever Virus since the outreak and reported deaths.
NOTE: This is not funny!
GEJ Caused Lassa Fever
Prof. Isaac Adewole, the Federal Minister of Health said the outbreak and spread of the deadly Lassa fever virus was ex President Jonathan’s fault when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Health. Mr. Minister, that is just R.i.d.i.c.u.l.o.u.s.!
Maybe the health minister was taking a cue from the person who joked that if Nigeria/GEJ had not viciously fought the deadly ebola virus, its cousin, Lassa fever, would not have come for revenge.
Watch out people, Jonathan may just be fingered if there is a mass failure in Mathematics during the UTME this year.
Breed More Cats
Well, cats do hunt rats no? Mr. Shehu Sani, a senator representing Kaduna Central in the Nigerian Senate said this on January 12. Okay please, no laughing. Lassa fever killing Nigerians is not something to laugh about. This is serious business. At least, so thinks Senator Shehu Sani.
After I read the Senator’s “joke”, I thought I should sample the opinion of a few of my friends; what they think about cats. “Cats are the most insane pets to keep. I can’t even come to your house if you keep cats,” said one friend. I was about to ask why, when she hit me with the uppercut reasoning, “Those things na winsh.” I just gave up.
Don’t Soak Garri
I don’t just know what to say about this or how to even say it. Since the Nigerian Civil War, soaking garri has continued to save lives across Nigeria. Heck, we have a Garri Soakers Association of Nigeria, head quartered in Ibadan. How can people say soaking garri is bad na?
Well, the reasoning is this: infected rats can burrow into garri sacks where they are stored, chew some and go on to defecate and pee right into the garri. Along with their faeces and urine, the virus would be passed along and when Mr Amadi takes out a “hand” to eat his favourite “cassava cereal”, Lassa fever hits.
Making eba with the garri however should not be a problem as the heat from the boiling hot water used to make this swallow is sure to incinerate the viruses.
Don’t Eat Rats
Shebi rat na bush meat? No more bush meats be that.
This should not be too hard na? After all, if you were able to refrain from eating Monkey meat during the Ebola crisis, this should not be so much of a problem. At least for now.
“We’ll Eradicate Lassa Fever By April”
The Health Minister, Prof. Isaac Adewole again said this. So Nigerians would continue to die until April abi? Issorai!
Now, for serious talk
We have a major problem that is threatening to kill everybody in Nigeria, and this writer is not now talking about kwurruption or insekuriti! But Negligence; negligence resulting in the lack of proactive measures for disease control. What is it about Nigeria that we proffer solutions only when we are hit with a challenge? Whatever happened to long term measures to prevent future or sudden rise of another deadly disease virus – with all the government agencies and monies voted to them in the budget?
Since the outbreak of the Lassa fever, 41 people have been confirmed dead out of 93 cases reported, with the spread across 17 states, according to THISDAY. Now that is definitely not a joking matter.
The deadly virus is reportedly named after the town of Lassa in Borno State, Northern Nigeria, where it was first discovered in 1969 and said to be one of the viral hemorrhagic fevers prevalent in the West Africa region. Common in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Guinea.
The deadly Lassa fever disease which according to Dr. Dr. Ogugua Osi-Ogbu, a chief consultant physician and coordinator for Lassa Fever Infection Control, National Hospital, Abuja, has symptoms such as high fever (which could last up to two weeks), body weakness, myalgia, headaches, sore throat, bleeding gums, seizures/coma in severe cases, deafness, multi-organ failure: liver, kidney; and can be easily prevented by avoiding contact with rats. This means all foods, cooking utensils and drinking water must be kept rat-proof in containers or places where rats cannot reach them. Complete cleanliness should be enforced around the house. If you find rats around your house, set rat traps or poisons for them.
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