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You must be immune to Lassa fever infection – Commissioner

The Commissioner for Health in Bayelsa State, Prof. Ebitimitula Etebu, has warned that nobody, irrespective of age, is immune to Lassa fever.

The commissioner, who was represented by an official in his ministry, Dr. Yorin Stow, said this during a briefing held in Yenagoa, the state capital, as part of the activities to sensitise the people on the deadly disease.
Etebu identified those who are more predisposed to contracting the disease as people who live in a dirty environment, family members taking care of infected relatives and health workers.

He said the incubation period for Lassa fever was between six and 21 days after which the victim would start manifesting symptoms of the disease.

Giving an insight into the disease, Etebu said, “We all know that Lassa fever is a very dangerous disease that affects humans and it’s caused by a virus found in a particular specie of rats called ‘the multi man-made rat’.

“These are rats that have a lot of breasts. It will interest you to know that Lassa fever outbreaks happen all through the year, but it is mostly in the dry season.

“We can get infected when we eat food and drink water contaminated with rat urine, faeces from rats or saliva of blood of rats etc.

“We can also get infected if we have direct contact with rat urine, the faeces or the saliva of the blood of a rat and when we touch the claws and materials contaminated with these items.

“It will also interest you to know that if we inhale air that is contaminated with tiny particles, faeces, urine or saliva of blood of rats, we could get infected. It can also be transmitted from person to person and by eating rats.”

He said the symptoms of Lassa fever included high fever, sore throat, back pain, chest pain, diarrhea, restlessness, cough, vomiting and swelling of the face

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