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WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT LASSA FEVER? 

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BACKGROUND:
Alan is 35 years and lives in the rural area. She is married to a farmer and together they have 5 children with her youngest child just clocking 8 months of age. Recently sleeping at night has been an issue for her family, as rats hold their council meetings in her home and all methods employed to deal with these creepy little mammals had so far proved abortive.

She sleeps with her 5 children and husband in one room. In her kitchen,she stores household food stuff and her ritual almost every morning was to clean rat faeces deposited by the rats during their night council meetings; yet every day the size of the droppings seemed to increase. She sometimes noticed these black droppings in her garri bag which was usually not properly closed as well as the rice bucket which had a broken cover but ignorant Alan ignored these all as she said “Dirty no dey kill African  man.”

“How can I discard a whole bag of garri and bucket of rice”, she murmured to herself; NO WAY!!!What will these children and mama eat? She throws her refuse at the back of her house and rats usually feasted on discarded food remnants all day long. One of the favourite pastimes of her children was killing these rats with their catapults and handling dead rats with their bare hands.

In fact many times they conducted mini rat killing tournaments and any one that killed the highest number of rats usually went home with the bragging rights.

Three weeks ago she suddenly started feeling weak and developed a fever. Her husband took her to the local chemist who gave her antimalarial and anti-typhoud medications as well as drugs for her fever, however her symptoms worsened as she soon started vomiting and passing watery stool. Her baby who was been breastfed also started having similar symptoms.

Seven days later,despite the earlier treatment the fever still persisted and she started having severe abdominal pain as well as difficulty in swallowing. She was then rushed to the General Hospital by her husband. By this time three of her other children were ill. She was investigated and again  treated for typhoid fever and despite the drugs she was on, her condition seemed to worsen.

Two days into the admission her eight months old baby who was been breastfed died by her side. While grieving for her baby she suddenly started vomiting blood and bleeding from her nostrils.

The doctor in charge of the health facility immediately became suspicious and reasoned he could probably be dealing with a viral haemorrhagic fever. Blood samples were taken from her and a call was put across to the State epidemiologist, who responded quickly. Few hours later Alan gave up the ghost.

Her blood sample was taken to the infectious disease laboratory and the fear of the doctor came true, when he received a call from the epidemiologist. His hospital had just handled a case of Lassa fever.

INTRODUCTION
Lassa fever also known as Lassa Hemorrhagic fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness which is caused by the Lassa virus a single-stranded RNA virus.

Lassa fever was first described in the 1950s, however the virus causing Lassa Fever was not identified until 1969 when two missionary nurses died in Lassa a town in Bornu State Nigeria. Lassa fever is endemic in parts of West Africa including Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
80% of people who come in contact with the virus either have no symptoms or come down with mild symptoms and are undiagnosed. The remaining 20% are symptomatic. Symptoms usually begin 6 – 21 days after contact with the virus.

Symptoms are non-specific and may include fever, general malaise and weakness as well as headache.
Symptoms may progress to include vomiting and stooling which may be bloody, stomach pain, difficulty in swallowing, unexplained bleeding, difficulty in breathing, chest pain and shock.

Some patients may also have hearing loss, seizures, meningitis and encephalitis. Death usually occurs as a result of multi-organ failure. Pregnant women in the 3rd trimester usually have high death rates;not forgetting high rates of spontaneous abortion. Because of how unspecific and variable the symptoms of Lassa fever are, it is usually difficult to diagnose clinically.

TRANSMISSION
Multimammate rat a rodent found in most homes and eaten as a delicacy in some areas is the host of Lassa Virus. When these rats
become infected with the Lassa Virus they do not become ill, but rather they shed the virus in their urine and faeces.

Humans become infected by direct contact with infected rats and their excrement. Contact with the virus can occur through inhalation of excrements which can occur during sweeping and dusting. It can also occur through eating contaminated food, exposure to cuts and open wound and touching of contaminated material. It can also be contacted directly by eating contaminated rats.

Person to Person transmission occurs via direct contact with body fluids and secretions of infected individuals. Sexual transmission of Lassa virus has been reported. The virus is excreted in urine for 3-9 weeks and in semen for 3 months. There is no evidence of airborne person to person transmission. Health workers and caregivers are at a very high risk of been infected.

DIAGNOSIS
Definitive diagnosis requires testing that is available in only specialized laboratories.

TREATMENT
At present there is no vaccine available that protects against Lassa fever. Ribavarin an antiviral drug has been found to be very useful in the treatment of Lassa fever patients especially when started early.

PREVENTION AND CONTROL
The role of community hygiene in the prevention of Lassa fever cannot be overemphasized. Foodstuff and grains should be stored in Rodent-proof containers; refuse thrown far from the house which must be properly cleaned. Placement of traps in and around homes can help reduce rodent population. Bear in mind that rats must not be handled or eaten and keeping of cats should be encouraged.

Family members should avoid touching body fluids while caring for sick persons. Hospital Staff should always apply universal safety precautions when handling patients.

In Nigeria, healthcare workers seeing a patient suspected to have Lassa fever should immediately contact the Local Government Disease Surveillance and Notification Officers (DSNOs) and/or epidemiologist in the State
Ministry of Health or call the Federal Ministry of Health using the following numbers: 08093810105, 08163215251, 08031571667 and 08135050005.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Castro

    August 12, 2017 at 6:39 am

    Good one Ovundah. I like the clarity of your letters. I am just sitting down and reading how to avoid Lassa Fever to my daughter.

    • Avatar

      Ovundah

      August 12, 2017 at 6:40 am

      Thanks for reading Castro, please do share the message.

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Healthy Living

Living Test Tubes…

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By Ovundah Nyeche.

And so one day I was seated with a patient, who came for a particular complaint…

And boom the  discussion turned to fibroids…

And boom I hear…

I am taking a herbal remedy for my fibroids…

And here was I sweating…

Madam, do you know what the herbal remedy you are taking contains? Nooooooooooo!

Madam, can you explain to me what fibroids are? The look changed to “if I had the chance, I will beat”… You can you explain to me what strength of material is? or explain to me the theory of relativity?…

Okay Madam, please do not be annoyed, “na play I dey play”…

Okay, jokes apart,  how does this herbal remedy work? Erm how am I supposed to know?

Madam, you know you are on other drugs, does this herbal remedy interact with other drugs you are taking?  And there was this “come young man you better behave yourself”… Well you know that look…

Erm Madam lest I forget, what are the side effects of this herbal remedy? “Haba” Doctor… These drugs are organic and have no side effect whatsoever…

Madam is beans you eat not organic? Shebi it has side effects… Which can range from firing, rumbling, peppering to praaaaaaaaa…

You say your medicine does not have any side effects at all? Yes oh…

Ironically, if a real doctor tells this patient anything, the patient will likely Google it… But when a wannabe is playing with the patient’s  life…They will likely look the other way…

Don’t kill yourself for nothing…

#hearword #OvdSpeaks #hearwordseries

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Features

Apologies My Dear Melanin Umbrella.

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By Belema Omuso Abbey.
I need to say I am sorry dear melanin. Can you ever forgive me? Can I ever undo this wrong? Is there a way I can make this better? How come I was never told I despised you with my actions. I was unknowingly telling you to get lost, literally!!! How come my brain never actually registered the counselling and all the caution I heard? Repeatedly heard.
A deep groan escaped Fabby’s lips as she clutched at her head, sobbing quietly. Then, she pressed send, delivering her message. She got up from the toilet seat and stood in front of the bathroom mirror. She looked at her once “glowing, very fair” skin, scattered in patches of red, black and yellow discoloration. Her skin was shriveled, she could see very tiny and large blue-green veins literally making a map all over her skin. It is a map indeed.
Her doctor says it shows the way the superficial blood vessels course through her body. Her left arm had a long scar, a lasting memory of the surgery she had 4 weeks earlier. The wound took 4 weeks to heal. Dr Regina said it was because her skin has lost all its protective, healing and regenerative functions. Fabby listened as her husband opened the door for the team comprising of doctors and nurses. Her husband called out to her, she is needed he said.
You see, she begins chemotherapy today for melanoma, a skin cancer. That was the outcome of the surgery on her left arm. Melanin stood rigidly against Dr Tan’s consulting room walls. Fabby’s message overwhelmed him as her words echoed all around him. He remembered reading Dr Regina’s notes a few months ago. “Mrs Fabby Dema, a 38 year old female, manager at a bank, who presented with an ulcer on the left arm. She was said to have previously developed an itchy black spot (before the ulcer started) that bled occasionally. She had been using over the counter whitening creams and soaps for 10 years, including a whitening cream following which she would pluck and pull out her skin after a few hours, revealing supposedly new skin. She is married, has just gotten to the peak of her career, her 3 kids are in secondary school. She does not smoke nor take alcohol.”
An angry loud thump drew melanin’s attention back to Dr Tan’s consulting room. It was the angry female patient. She is quite furious because Dr Tan is insisting that she has developed an addiction to steroid creams as she refused to stop applying them 5 months ago. He had prescribed it for an acute flare of her eczema but was surprised to see her much lighter in complexion during the clinic visit. She explained that the steroid cream made her skin fairer and more beautiful. She stomped out of the consulting room as the young dermatologist refused to prescribe some more for her. Melanin pitied Dr Tan. He had particularly had a bad day at the dermatology clinic.
He reminisced about his previous patients. He wondered whether he was complicit in 45 year old Mrs Owuna’s addiction to hydroquinone. He had prepped her skin for a chemical peel with 2% hydroquinone after counselling her on the benefits of the controlled procedure. Following sessions of chemical peels with glycolic acid, he withdrew hydroquinone, placing her on sunscreen.
Despite pre procedure counselling, Mrs A has refused to go off hydroquinone. Today, she informed Dr Tan that her 23 year old daughter’s skin is doing very well with a hydroquinone cream. Dr Tan felt some warmth on his shoulders as Melanin wrapped his arm around him. “No” Melanin said, the patient chose to continue the use of hydroquinone, you did not. He thought of Ms A. Ms A’s ebony skinned friend had accompanied her to her follow up clinic visit today. She needed to consult Dr Tan for a cream that could get her fair. Her group of friends had all started using naturally mixed soap and cream that made their skin luminous. She was rightly worried about the contents of those products, so she came to consult Dr Tan for safer options.
Melanin then screamed through the doctor. “Do not be tempted madam”. Do you know what the different shades of “black” you see on different skin do for us? It protects us from the damaging effects of the ultraviolet rays of the sun. It actually forms an umbrella shield around our skin’s DNA preventing damage and leading to skin cancer. It helps us not to photo age as fast as the white race. Ever heard of the phrase “black don’t crack”?
Bleaching agents with toxic contents like mercury and hydroquinone can give you kidney failure, steroids can cause growth retardation in children and cause a disease called Cushing’s disease. In the long run, when compared to your peers, your skin will look older, is prone to rashes, prone to skin infections, looks more wrinkled, does not heal properly and looks transparent. “I am Melanin, I live in your skin, I protect you, please do not hurt me” the doctor heard himself plead loudly. Those words sliced through Fabby as she dropped the cup of cream. 

 

You see, she is now in remission, her skin cancer treatment had resulted in a very good prognosis. Fabby was about applying whitening/bleaching cream because she noticed her ankles and knuckles look really dark she needed to even up the complexion one more time. Just one more week of use she thought, then I am done with toning my skin forever. So she planned, until melanin replied her long forgotten message.

Belema Omuso Abbey is a consultant dermatologist and physician of the West African College of Physicians. She trained at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital and The University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital Ituku-Ozalla, Enugu state. She is presently into private practise. She loves to dance, read and allow her imaginations run wild.
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Healthy Living

Ticktock says the breast…

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By Ovundah Nyeche.

In medicine, time is everything…

And many times the difference between life and death is time…and not necessarily money…

Husbands please do a lot of night watch and EFCC on your wife’s breasts…

Ladies be vigilant about your breasts…

Don’t dismiss casually…

Breast pain…

Nipple deviation…

Sunken Nipple…

Dimple on the breast…

Skin changes on the breast…

Swelling on the breast…

Wound on the breasts… ( leave village people, bluetooth and staphylococcus alone)…

Strange Nipple discharge…

Swelling under your armpits…

Please see a doctor urgently… As in immediately with all alacrity…

TIME is EVERYTHING…

And breast cancer is beatable many times, if fought on time…

Many times when caught late… Even your money… may mean nothing…

Do not just play with your breast… Watch and take care of it…

Do not just flaunt it… Inspect it…

And present to a doctor once you notice any foul play…

You are needed…

Your life matter…

Ladies your life matter…

#hearword #OvdSpeaks #hearwordseries #Ovdiasis

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