Anambra Lassa fever Index case: University sensitizes staff, students

573 views | Elochukwu Benjamin | February 7, 2020

In a bid to prevent the spread of Lassa Fever in the University Community, the management of the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (COOU) has organized a one-day sensitization workshop for the staff and students of the university.

The workshop was held at the ETF building of the university.

Last week, Anambra’s first case of Lassa fever, a 200 level student of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, was confirmed at the COOU Teaching Hospital Amaku-Awka, a development that sparked fear among citizens of the state.

Statistics from Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) reveals an upsurge in the number of Lassa cases in Nigeria since the beginning of 2020, with two hundred and fifty-eight positive cases and forty-one deaths at the end of January in nineteen states.

According to the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor Greg Nwakoby, the workshop aims to sensitize members of the university community on the cause, symptoms, treatment, and prevention of Lassa fever and other emerging diseases.

He said “we decided to invite medical experts to speak to our people so that they will know the factors that predispose one towards the disease and then the preventive measures to avert the epidemic. So it is a sensitization program to alert the staff and students on what they must do. And from what we have heard, the most important thing is being conscious of the environment and our relationship with others that can expose one to the virus.”

Prof Nwakoby called for the replication of such exercise in other educational institutions across the state, as according to him, the right knowledge will help people of the state stay safe and curb further spread of the virus.

A resource person at the program, Professor Amobi Ilika, who is also a Consultant with the highlighted the cause, symptoms, and preventive measures, ranging from keeping rodents out of homes and food supplies, effective personal hygiene, storing grain and foodstuffs in rodent-proof containers and disposing of garbage far from home to help sustain clean household.

“The spread of the Lassa virus can be prevented if the people are conscious of what they should do and endeavor to do them. The virus is transmitted by a particular species of rat, the multi-mammate rat with multiple breasts and long unhairy tail. Avoiding contact whatsoever with rats can be very key in curbing the spread of this hemorrhagic virus. Also, proper handwashing can also help,” Ilika said.

Some of the participants, including the university’s Student Union Government, Public Relations Officer Mr. Chukwuemeka Divine and Miss Jennifer Ajie-Oputa who is the SUG Treasurer, who both commended the initiative, promised to join the fight by circulating the information and knowledge gained and to report any suspected case without delay to approved health facilities for early diagnosis and treatment.

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