Good community hygiene - Key to preventing Lassa fever

BY: Rebecca Kwei
Dr Badu Sarkodie
Dr Badu Sarkodie

Young people have been advised to practise good community hygiene to prevent rodents from entering homes, dormitories or schools to avoid the spread of Lassa fever.

Additionally, it is also important to maintain good personal hygiene such as regular hand washing with soap and water, use of sanitisers and improved sanitation.

The Director of Public Health Division of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Badu Sarkodie, gave the advice in the wake of an outbreak of Lassa fever in Nigeria.

As of now, more than 300 people have been infected, with 31 deaths recorded.

One death has also been recorded in Ghana.
Lassa fever is a zoonotic disease, meaning it is transmitted from animals to humans.

Humans get the disease from contact with infected rodents and subsequently human-to-human transmission occurs.

Explaining further, Dr Sarkodie said human beings usually get infected through the air or by direct contact with the excreta of infected rodents.

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He also noted that infections could come about through direct contact with the blood, discharge from the throat, nose, urine, faeces or other body secretions of an infected person.

Dr Sarkodie said it was important to raise awareness of members of the public about the disease to prevent infection.

He indicated that people should store grain and other foodstuffs in rodent-proof containers and dispose of garbage far from homes.

Due to the fact that Lassa fever is spread by infected rodents, Dr Sarkodie said it was wise to keep households clean and if possible have cats.

Although 80 per cent of Lassa fever cases have been estimated to start without any signs, Dr Sarkodie said the early symptoms of Lassa fever include general weakness and fever.

However, headaches, sore throat, muscle pain, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, cough and abdominal pain may occur after a few days of infection.