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Jennifer Nagu: The Lassa Fever in town



dreamstime_l_32513368Getting into my house at 10pm on Sunday night, extremely hungry, was not exactly how I envisioned my day would go. Work was hectic, and I had to stay a few more hours. Tiredly dropping my bag at the dinning table, I went straight to the kitchen for a binge and alas…there, throttling across the kitchen floor, were two tiny rats. I instantly went for the kill! I wasn’t having it any longer…Killer rodents. I grabbed the kitchen mop stick and chased the frightened rodents down to their doom.

Rewind to late 2015, I maybe wouldn’t have bothered my tiny little head; it would have been business as usual. But today, Lassa fever is in town. Have you seen the news? Like really studied the headlines lately? There have been 41 people killed in 10 States of the federation. The current unsuspected cases also rose from 86 to 93. Even Abuja, recently recorded a fatality from the Lassa fever.

Yes, the Lassa fever should be taken seriously. After all in my Church early in January (Not mentioning names) it was predicted that another fast killing virus would be discovered in Nigeria again. As a typical Nigerian, this probably informs the undivided attention I pay rodents these days. You probably should too.

Let me bring you up to speed with what the Lassa fever really is? Pardon me, I am no doctor or health expert but I have done a little research and this has gotten a tad more interesting.

Lassa fever is an acute hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus, first described in Borno State. The Lassa virus belongs to the Arenavirdae virus family, with clinical symptoms just like the Ebola Virus. The primary animal host of the Lassa virus is the Multimammate Rat. The virus is transmitted by contact with the faeces or urine of animals infected by this virus. Outbreaks of the Lassa Virus have been observed in Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Guinea Nigeria alone has recorded 2900 infections from 2012 till date.

Symptoms of this virus are weakness, headaches, fever, abdominal pain, and nasal bleeding. This could progress into serious symptoms that include facial swelling and shock. Though 80% of infections elicit no symptoms, if they do occur, they can be quite nasty. There is no licensed vaccine for this fever, However, high tech rodent control and avoiding contact with rodents and infected persons helps prevent infection.

Although, he government on its own part has raised a 4-man committee to help with facts finding. Controlling the spread begins with you and I. Maintain good sanitary habits. Get a mouse trap,  rat poison, keep cats to wade off rats if you like, all these would go a long way to avoid the Lassa infection.

Also let us be vigilant against patients with suspected symptoms as listed above. Take preventive measures against close contact with infected persons. Wear protective gloves and masks alike, to help prevent contamination.

But please please….In the course of my research, I discovered that some people eat and enjoy rodent delicacies. Rat Meat or….. sorry Rat Stew??? Err….I never had rat anything before; I wonder how it tastes too…..making faces. Anyway, be informed that if you eat food items contaminated with urine and droppings of an infected rat you would be infected! Be wise.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Jennifer Nagu is a Lagos based Freelance-writer, editor and Aviation professional, specializing in Aviation, wellness and travel related matters. She has published work with notable media platforms across Africa, like Ynaija of the Red media group, Guardian Nigeria Newspaper, New York based wellness publication Thrive global, founded by mogul Arianna Huffington and Ndalo media's Habari Magazine. She holds a degree in communications from Covenant univerity and an IATA diploma in Airline Quality diploma from Geneva.


  1. HerExcellence

    January 16, 2016 at 5:36 pm

    Thanks Jennifer. I am better informed. But the avoiding contact with infected persons I don’t understand. Even without eating infected foids ,one can get d fever by mere contact? Kinda confusing tho. God protect us

  2. Tea

    January 16, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    How do people live with rats. I have never once had rats inside my house. Is this an issue with people’s sanitation. I’m not trying to be judgemental, but I just can’t live with rats, and I’m surprised by d way ppl think it’s a normal thing, having rats run a riot inside ur home. Not even compound which is understandable.

    • Onyii

      January 16, 2016 at 7:42 pm

      People don’t choose to live with rats, well, lots of people don’t. D rats just get it, just like cockroaches

    • ElessarisElendil

      January 17, 2016 at 1:16 am

      Its a ground floor epidemic. Plus Nigerians tend to be allergic to Cats,

    • Chacha

      January 17, 2016 at 11:14 am

      The Nigerian allergy to cats is amazing. Ha ha haaahaa. Poor lovely but largely demonized animals. #ilovecats

    • Ada_ugo

      January 17, 2016 at 1:20 am

      You’re sounding different kinds of ignorant right about now. Just quit while ur ahead, and go get yourself either some wisdom or some life experience.

  3. Leo

    January 16, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    There are Rats and there are Mice….these 2 are different….Rats hardly live indoors ,If you find rats in your house then you must be extremely dirty or maybe you live near a very dirty uncompleted/deserted building…..Rats don’t get in like cockroaches but mice do.

  4. chchi

    January 16, 2016 at 10:45 pm

    There are rats everywhere in Nigeria, high brow areas too. However some with poor sanitation in the area especially where the draining system is worse, there will be more rats or mice. The difference is more homes in high brow areas have homes with les holes so the chances of mice getting in is reduced.

    On another note, why do Nigerians say rats when they mean mice, and yes there is a difference, rats are big with long tails, and hardly are found in homes and mice/mouse are small. The first time my cousin told me she saw a rat in the kitchen I seriously almost cried out like a baby, in the UK that is a huuuuugge deal to find a rat in your house she thought I was being dramatic and too used to UK. When I saw the rodent fir myself in the kitchen, I was like ohhh! You mean a mouse, not great either but a mouse trap can get rid of that, and very common in UK especially if u have a garden or live in the country side. Anyway off topic but yes it bugs me when Nigerians say rat when it is a mouse. Ps for the people who eat rat their is a delicacy in the middle belt area of Nigeria where the rat is not the typical rodent one but in the same rat family and is used for bush meat. Other than that I don’t think eating street rodent mice or rats is good for anyone.

    • ElessarisElendil

      January 17, 2016 at 1:18 am

      Rat nah Rat ohh ehn oyibo.

      They’re different names in the different languages its all rats to us in English though. Can’t start retraining my self to think of Jerry as a Mice.

    • Chacha

      January 17, 2016 at 11:22 am

      Jerry is a mouse actually. Not a rat 🙂
      And true she’s right about the rat thing in the UK. I once called my landlord in London to complain about “rats”. The man freaked out. That his property couldn’t have rats in it. He called the fumigation people. Some “rats” died. Then they told me “they were only mice”. Hahaaa. As if it mattered. Rat, mouse, I don’t want RODENTS. None are our friends… Except jerry of course:-)

  5. lily matty

    January 16, 2016 at 11:01 pm

    wow… dis one na ebola second ooo… d end tym is rili around d corner….. careful guys

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