Lassa fever is back. The question might be if it ever left. But while we might try to answer that; the reality of things is that the thing has come again. It is not fatal as other fevers in its category. But it can kill infected persons all the same.
This year alone, over 16 people including doctors have been confirmed dead. But we are still not talking about it enough.
If you don’t know what Lassa fever really is, it is a type of viral haemorrhagic fever. This means that the fever is caused by a virus that makes you feel feverish and bleed. Many infected people don’t develop symptoms. But the symptoms typically include fever, weakness, headaches, vomiting, and muscle pains. There may also be bleeding from the mouth or digestive tract.
Only about one per cent of infected persons die from Lassa fever; and it is usually within two weeks of the start of symptoms. So, you can see it is not as fatal as Ebola. Maybe that’s why we don’t care so much about it.
See ehn, the God that is saving us in Lagos is the God of the New Testament. The One that tempers justice with mercy because left to ordinary man; a flick of the wrist is all it will take for all of us to vanish.
When Ebola entered Lagos, it can only be the same God that showed up for us. I am sure that without the kind of love that He inspires; Ebola would have done us serious damage. Indeed, the trauma would have left us afraid of even malaria.
What Dr Stella Ada Adedavoh and her team did for us is amazing and humbling. I would like to think that I would do the same if I was in their shoes. But I really doubt it.
To give up one’s life for a people that would most likely forget about you the next day; or even be oblivious to the extent of your sacrifice? That one is hard. Even that brilliant movie “93 Days” didn’t capture the craziness that must have happened during that period. In truth, they deserve to be celebrated annually for their enormous sacrifice.
But then how many Stellas do we have left in Lagos? Who will champion a cause to the point of giving up their life and or property in Lagos? I don’t know o. If Lassa fever makes its way back to Lagos, it is anyone’s guess how it will be handled.
We don’t even have to give up our lives to make a statement before something is done to improve our preparedness to these viral outbreaks. We can start early to create awareness and take precautions so that an epidemic is prevented.
The carrier of Lassa fever is the multimammate rat, the one with plenty of breasts. If you can identify it, avoid it. Store your food well. Keep your compound fumigated and as clean as possible. Buy a cat if you like, they help keep rats away.
Hopefully, communal efforts will help with the prevention of an epidemic. Because you see things like Ebola? Never again!