Written by Bede NNAJI, Ovie Akpovwa

PANIC AS LASSA FEVER SPREADS

·        Rat poison sellers make brisk sales

·        Fruit sellers, ‘Mama put’ hard hit

As Lassa fever, a ravaging hemorrhagic disease spreads, panic has gripped most Nigerians with residents of the Federal Capital Territory, rushing for rat poisons and traps, while shunning fruit sellers and local food sellers known as ‘mama put.’

Our correspondents report that since the news broke that one person died of the disease at the National Hospital Abuja after spending some days at a hospital in Kubwa, a suburb of the FCT, residents have become more cautions

One measure residents have adopted is going for rat poisons and traps as well as hand sanitizers that were a hit during the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in the country.

On Friday, it was reported that one person had died of the LF at the Lagos State Teaching hospital, LASUTH, Ikeja.

Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, who confirmed the death, said it involves a 25-year-old student of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

Already, 11 states have the presence of the disease. Some the areas include; the federal capital territory, Lagos, Rivers, Plateau, Niger and Bauchi,

 Before now, a rat poison seller told one of our correspondents that people were shy and unresponsive in buying rat traps and poison, but that with the outbreak of the disease, people now patronise them “without shame.”

A visit to Utako, Karu and Kubwa Markets showed rat poison sellers making brisk sales as customers besieged them.

A rat poison seller at the Karu market, Chinedu, told our correspondent with glee that “market has never been this good. Since they said person died of Lass fever and they said it is caused by rats, market has improved very well.”

A resident saw buying the rat poison, who refused to give her name said, “no taking chances. Before now I used to sneer at them, but now is no time for that.”

In Kubwa where the first death in the FCT was announced, it was a mad rush for poisons, traps and sanitizers.

“What is all these? Is the world coming to an end? After Ebola now we are faced with Lass fever. Government needs to carry out intensive campaign especially around the slums,” Ugochukwu Anya told The Abuja Inquirer in Kubwa.

While the rat poison sellers are smiling, fruit sellers are counting their losses as customers shun fruits’ buying for now. Also affected are local food sellers.

A fruit seller, Musa, told this newspaper that since it was announced that people should be careful of fruits as rats could run on them when in storage, people have been avoiding buying fruits.

“Sales have been low since it was announced that fruits could transmit the disease. I just hope this matter is tackled like it was with the Ebola issue,” Musa said.

The number of deaths recorded since the recent outbreak of the disease in August 2015 is put at 43.

Lassa fever or Lassa hemorrhagic fever (LHF) is an acute viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus, first discovered in 1969 in Lassa town, Borno.

The primary host of the Lassa virus is the natal multimammate mouse (with multiple breasts and long tail (mastomys natalensis), found in most of sub-Saharan Africa.

The virus is transmitted via contact with the faeces or urine of the mouse accessing grain stores and residences.

Symptoms of Lassa fever include high fever, nausea, stooling, tiredness, cough, stomach pain, constipation, bloody vomiting and diarrhoea.

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