Preventing Outbreaks of Lassa Fever and Cholera

The main cause of Lassa virus is a rodent known as the Multimammate Rat of the genus Mastomys but it is not sure that which species of Mastomys are associated with Lassa fever.


What is Lassa fever?

Lassa fever is an acute and often fatal viral disease, with fever, occurring mainly in West Africa including Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Liberia. While most humans are infected either from contact with an infected rat or inhalation of air contaminated with rat excretions, like other hemorrhagic fevers, Lassa fever can be transmitted directly from one human to another. It can be contracted through direct contact with infected human blood excretions and secretions, including through sexual contact. No evidence of airborne transmission person-to-person is seen. Transmission through breast milk has also been observed.


Symptoms may include Fever, Sore throat, Abdominal and Back Pain, Vomiting, Chest Pain Diarrhea, Mucosal bleeding

Lassa virus is diagnosed by doing a laboratory test in a test centre. Lassa fever is most often diagnosed by using enzyme-linked immunosorbent serologic assays (ELISA), which detect IgM and IgG antibodies as well as Lassa antigen. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) can be used in the early stage of disease.


Recent Deaths from Lassa Fever and Cholera

The State Commissioner for Health, Bauchi, Dr Zuwaira Hassan had disclosed while briefing Journalists on the situation on Cholera and Lassa Fever outbreaks in the state. She said Nine people died from Cholera while Lassa fever claimed five lives.

According to the commissioner, 324 cases of cholera were recorded and 26 patients are on admission at the isolation ward of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Teaching Hospital (ATBUTH) Bauchi.


Unhealthy practices that could cause diseases

Unhealthy habits that could cause infectious diseases include Poor environmental sanitation, Poor personal hygiene, Improper handling of food and water, Open defecation and improper disposal of human waste, Refusal to vaccinate against easily preventable infectious diseases.

“In order to prevent more outbreak, community volunteers have been going around to educate and sensitize the people and the Ministry of Health has chlorinate their water,” She said.

She attributed the causes of cholera outbreak to unhygienic practices like Open Defaecation being practiced by some people.

“it’s unfortunate that our people defaecate outside and the faeces passes through their drinking water and they don’t practice personal hygiene. Dr. Zuwaira.

The commissioner further informed that five local government areas which include; Bauchi, Toro, Darazo, Tafawa Balewa and Ganjuwa were affected by the Cholera outbreak.

44 cases of Lassa Fever were recorded out of which five patients died from the disease. She said that other affected patients are currently receiving treatment at the ATBUTH Bauchi.

The Commissioner commended the Federal government for its quick intervention and support to Bauchi state government which helped in tackling the outbreaks.


Overview of Cholera

cholera is an infectious disease that cause severe watery diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration and even death if untreated. About 3-5 million people in a year gets the infection and about 28,800 death rate as at 2015.

The bacterium that causes cholera is called vibrio cholerae, which is usually found in food or water contaminated by feces from a person with the infection.
Some common sources include municipal (government) water supply, ice made from municipal water, foods and drinks sold by street vendors, vegetables grown with water containing human wastes and raw or undercooked fish and seafood caught in water polluted with sewage.

When a person consumes the contaminated food or water, the bacteria releases a toxin in the intestine that produces severe diarrhea. It’s not likely that you will catch cholera just from casual contact with an infected person. Signs and symptoms of cholera include large amount of watery diarrhea, vomiting, rapid heart rate, loss of skin elasticity, dry mucous membranes, including the inside of the mouth, throat, nose and eyelids, and low blood pressure.


How to Prevent Lassa fever and cholera infections

Lassa Fever:

  • Avoid contact between rats and human beings. Isolating infected patients from contact with unprotected persons until the disease has run its course
  • Block all rat hideouts
  •  Cook all foods thoroughly
  • Cover all foods and water properly
  • If you suspect that rat has eaten any food, discard it
  • Keep your house and Environment clean
  • Store foodstuffs in rodent proof containers
  • Wearing protective clothing, such as Masks, gloves, gowns, and GlassesNote: And as soon as you suspect Lassa fever, or you have persistent fever not responding to the normal/common treatment for malaria and typhoid, report to the nearest Health facility.



  • Sterilization: proper disposal and treatment of all materials that may have come into contact with a cholera victim feces should be sanitized by washing in hot water.
  • Water purification:All water used for drinking, cooking or washing should be sterilized by either boiling or chlorination.
  • Hand washing: wash hands with soap after using a toilet and before handling food or eating.
  • Proper food hygiene: wash fruits and vegetables properly before consumption. Heat up your food before eating to kill microbes.
  • Vaccination: protect yourself and family against cholera through vaccination which are available.
  • Avoid open defecation or defecating near water sources and using human feces for manure in farms.



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