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Mr Nuhu Anyegwu, National Vice-President, Environmental Health Officers Association of Nigeria (EHOAN), North Central, on Saturday urged government at all levels to strengthen Environmental Health Services to check the spread of Lassa Fever.

Anyegwu who disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Idah aid there was need for more government, groups and individuals’ commitment to environmental health issues.

He said that with the prevalence of communicable diseases especially, the sudden outbreak of Lassa fever (viral haemorrhagic fever) in the country, governments should advance and strengthen environmental health services to fighting the disease.

“It is popularly stated that the major parameters or indices with which to measure the effectiveness and success of environmental Health services is a drastic reduction in the incidences of communicable diseases and where feasible, complete elimination”, he said.

Anyegwu who is also the Rector of Kogi College of Health Technology, Idah, attributed the outbreak of the disease to poor sanitation saying that it was similar to Ebola in terms of its etiological agents and clinical manifestations.

“The spread of Lassa virus to humans occur mostly through ingestion or contact. Mastomys – rodents shed the virus in urine and droppings and direct contact with these materials cause the infection”, he explained.

The disease, he said, could be contracted through eating of contaminated food, exposure of open cuts or sores, contact with an infected person, exposure to virus in the blood, tissues, secretions or excretions of an infected individual and rodents.

As part of preventive measures against the disease, the environmental expert advocated promotion of good hygiene, avoidance of contact with rats and infected human-beings and environmental cleanliness.

Anyegwu also advised that food be cooked thoroughly while all cooked food and water be properly covered; foodstuffs be stored in rodent proof containers; all rat holes and hideouts, blocked and foodstuff suspected to have been eaten by rats be discarded.

According to the expert, the disease which has incubation period of between six and 21 days is asymptomatic in nature in about 80 per cent of cases but manifests but could be revealed in some non-specific symptoms.

Such symptoms include fever, facial swellings and muscular fatigue as well as conjunctivitis and mucosal bleeding while the signs of the disease include gastro-intestinal tract infections and bloody vomiting.

Others according to Anyegwu are nausea, bloody diarrhea, stomach ache, dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing), hepatitis, hyper and hypo tension and unilateral or bilateral hearing defects among others.

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