Rat-bite fever is a bacterial illness spread by rats and possibly mice. The disease occurs worldwide and is spread through bites or scratches from an infected rodent, contact with a dead rodent, or eating or drinking food and water that is contaminated by rat feces.
The Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS) has called for more actions and funding to tackle the outbreak of Lassa fever within the country. Prof. Mosto Onuoha, President of the Academy, decided on Tuesday in Lagos.
Onuoha also urged the federal government to declare Lassa fever a public health event of national concern.
He said during a statement that an interdisciplinary One-Health Committee, comprising medical and veterinary specialists, epidemiologists, social scientists, media practitioners, community representatives, should be found out to tackle the scourge.
According to him, the committee will advise and assist the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in investigating and managing Lassa fever outbreaks.
The government should provide adequate funds for a sensitive disease surveillance system back by a reliable network of diagnostic laboratories.
“Given that only about 20 per cent of suspected Lassa fever cases are usually confirmed, there is a need to improve the potential and enhance the capacity of the national laboratory network.
This is for reliable and efficient definitive diagnosis of suspected cases.
The Federal and State Governments need to mount an extensive and sustained public Lassa fever prevention and control awareness program.
Each state should establish a functional isolation ward for the treatment of Lassa fever patients.
“It is important to line up a mechanism for improving environmental sanitation during a sustained manner throughout the country to reduce rodent population and rodent to human contact,’’ he said.
The expert said that funds should even be provided for research into finding new drugs for the treatment of Lassa fever and the development of a vaccine against the scourge.