The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) in Osun on Monday visited major markets in Osogbo, the state capital, to sensitise traders on the causes, symptoms and prevention of Lassa fever.
Dr Tokunbo Olajumoke, the state NMA Chairman who led his colleagues, while addressing newsmen said the exercise was aimed at educating the traders on the existence of Lassa fever and ways to prevent it.
Olajumoke said the market women were also taught the symptoms of the fever and the appropriate steps to take in case such symptoms were noticed.
He said that the traders were informed that the outbreak of Lassa fever in neighbouring Ondo State was a red flag signal for Osun.
The chairman urged the traders to be mindful of rats and rat droppings on food items.
“We visited the markets to talk to the people about Lassa fever which has been ravaging most of the states in the country.
“As we are all aware, the vector (rats) are very close to the people in the market.
“And when the rats touch what the traders sell, the buyers who consume such contaminated food items would be infected.
“It is very paramount to sensitise the traders on this danger and that is why we have taken it upon ourselves to embark on this awareness tour to major markets in Osogbo.
“We are sensitising the people in the local language and in a manner that they can easily understand and relate to.
“So that we can prevent Lassa fever rather than waiting to treat people when get infected.
“As you are equally aware, Lassa fever is already ravaging Ondo state which is very close to Osun and there have also been a reported case of Lassa fever in Osun.
“We have recorded a death as a result of Lassa fever at the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital in Osun here and it was confirmed.
“Though the victim of the Lassa fever was said to have been brought in from Ondo sick.
“ 40 people who came in contact with him were currently quarantined and under close examination to determine if they have also been infected.
“We realised that prevention is better than cure and that is why we came out to sensitise traders’ today,’’ he said.
Alhaja Sidikat Abidogun, Leader of Akindeko Market Women, one of the markets visited by the doctors, commended the NMA for the initiative.
She urged the doctors to intensify the campaign and cover more markets so that majority of the people would be aware of the scourge.