The staff and students of the College of Health Sciences of the Osun State University on Friday, 14th of February took to the street of the main campus of the University to sensitize, educate and enlighten the general public on the dangers of Lassa fever, prevention and the symptoms of the fever.
The sensitization programme which started on Tuesday, 11th of February at the Olagunsoye Oyinlola Auditorium of the University had in the presence all the key officers of the College of Health Sciences and their students.
The Provost of the College of Health Sciences, Professor Olutayo Alebiosu while declaring the sensitization programme open, advised the general public to always maintain good hygiene and avoid contact with rats.
Dr Akin Omisore of the department of community medicine while delivering the sensitization lecture said, “Lassa fever is caused by a virus that belongs to Arenavirus, it was first discovered in Borno state, Nigeria, in 1969. It is endemic and they are opportune to enter the house as a result of bush burning.
This virus affects all ages and both sexes. The reservoir of the Lassa virus is a rodent of the genus Mastomys commonly known as ‘multimammate rat’, transmitted through food or household items contaminated by infected rats urine and faeces.
Two graduating students of Public Health also lent their voices in the awareness lecture – Olufemi Michael and IfeoluwaOyerinde.
The incubation period is 6-21days, animal-borne or zoonotic or acute viral illness and this virus are endemic in parts of West Africa but exported cases have also been seen in Europe.
The signs and symptoms of Lassa fever are fever, general weakness and malaise at an early stage, followed by headache, sore throat, muscle pain, chest pain, vomiting and diarrhoea.
In severe cases, facial swelling, low blood pressure and nose bleeding occur. Death usually occurs within 14days of onset in fatal cases.
This Lassa fever is treated using ribavirin and diagnosed using antibody enzyme-linked immunosorbent serologic assay (ELISA) or reverse transcriptase chain reaction assay (RT-PCR).
Those at risk of getting the disease are people living in or visiting endemic regions and have exposure to the multimammate/community with poor sanitation.
Lassa fever can be prevented by avoiding any contact with multimammate rats, washing one’s hand regularly, maintaining good hygiene, not eating a rat, cooking of all foods thoroughly and keeping one’s hostel clean and neat always.
If anyone has contacted this fever, please don’t panic – it can still be healed, Professor Alebiosu added.
The three-day sensitisation programme continued with a walk to live in the host community of the main campus of Osun State University and the state capital of Osun on Wednesday, 13th and ended on Thursday, 14th of February.