Lassa Fever: Health official warns avoid bush-burning

Channels Television  
Updated February 27, 2012

Nigerians have been advised to avoid burning bushes in a bid to curb a Lassa fever outbreak that has so far killed some 40 people this year alone.

According to the Associated Press, chief epidemiologist Dr. Henry Akpan said on Monday that burning bushes would only drive rat species, carriers of the deadly viral disease, into people’s homes.

In recent months, the Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria spread through 12 states, including Borno, Gombe, Yobe, Plateau, Nassarawa, Ebonyi, Edo, Ondo, Rivers, Anambra, Lagos and Taraba States.

The health ministry confirmed 87 out of the 397 suspected Lassa fever cases in those states and says it is making treatment available.

According to the World Health Organisation, the Lassa viral haemorrhagic fever, an acute illness with one to four week long durations, occurs most frequently in West African countries.

People get infected with the disease when they come in contact with rat’s droppings and urine or come in contact with already infected persons.

WHO reports that the disease claims approximately 5,000 lives across West Africa each year. The Nigeria Federal Government, last week, inaugurated a 23-member Lassa Fever Rapid Response Committee in hopes of curbing the spread of the disease.