By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA – WITH the outbreak of Lassa fever killing over 40 people in 10 states of the country, the National Association of State Assembly Legislators, NASAL, has urged Nigerians to strictly adhere to the rules of personal hygiene at home and market place to prevent the spread of the virus.
Director-General, NASAL, Hon. Uchechukwu Chukwuma, expressed worry over the number of people killed by the dreadful virus carried by rats.
He urged government, non-governmental organisations, Civil Society Organisations and Community based Organisations to carry out holistic and aggressive sensitisation at markets, restaurants, neighbourhoods, communities, offices and schools as it did during the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease, EVD and its eradication.
Chukwuma said: “It is very disheartening by the recent outbreak of Lassa fever in 10 states of the country, particularly in the beginning of the year 2016. We at National Association of State Assembly Legislators, NASAL, are concerned and prioritise the health of Nigerians and we are really pained by this dangerous and deadly development.
“The number of persons killed by the deadly virus is alarming and worrisome, which is now 40 persons according to available Federal Government report at the weekend.
“We plead with Nigerians to be very conscious and adhere to rules of personal hygiene, and also ensure they clean the markets and neighbourhoods to prevent the spread of the disease and avoid any food eaten by rats or any rodents.”
He further stated that the public in states affected and those not affected be educated on preventive measures, “The following preventive measures should be taken immediately; avoid contact between rats and human beings; observe good personal hygiene, including hand washing with soap and running water regularly; and dispose of your waste properly and clean the environment so that rats are not attracted”, he stated.
He also urged the public to be their brother and sister keepers by promptly reporting any symptom of the virus to medical doctors and other health workers. “These include fever, headache, chills, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, sore throat, backache, and joint pains. Late symptoms include bleeding from the eyes, ears and nose, bleeding from the mouth and rectum, eye swelling, swelling of the genitals and rashes all over the body that often contain blood. It could progress to coma, shock and death.
“According to reports from doctors on the virus it could be contacted through ingestion of foods and drinks contaminated by the saliva, urine and faeces of infected rats; catching and preparing infected rats as food; inhaling tiny particles in the air contaminated with infected rat urine or droppings; and direct contact with a sick person’s blood or body fluids, through mucous membranes, like eyes, nose, or mouth”, he said.