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Red Alert: Lassa fever hits Nigeria

Lassa fever virus as viewed under a microscope
Lassa fever virus as viewed under a microscope
An outbreak of the Lassa fever virus in Rivers State has led to two deaths, the state commissioner for Health Dr. Odagme Theophilus confirmed in a statement issued in the state Tuesday.

According to him, the government is making efforts to trace where the disease broke out from with the view to stall further spread.

Theophilus urged residents of the state to step up their hygiene and environmental sanitation, just as they should be weary of all forms of contact with rats and other rodents and their droppings to avoid being infested.

An outbreak in Taraba state also led to one death with two people now being observed.

Lassa fever is an acute and often fatal viral disease, with fever, occurring chiefly in West Africa. It is usually acquired from infected rats.

The fever was first described in 1969 in the town of Lassa, in Borno State, Nigeria. It is transmitted by contact with the faeces or urine of the Natal multimammate mouse, whose female has multiple and prominent mammary glands. Person to person transmission occurs through direct contact with the sick person.

Lassa fever kills fast and can be likened to the infamous Ebola.