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‘Lack of labs hampers Lassa fever test’

A Consultant Epidemiologist at the Federal Medical Centre, Ido Ekiti,  Dr. Olusegun Elegbede, has said that inadequate laboratories, where tests can be carried out to confirm Lassa fever cases, is a threat to the health on many Nigerians.

Elegbede, who said this in an interview with our correspondent on Thursday,  described the two hospitals where Lassa fever could be tested as grossly inadequate.

He said, “Government should make laboratories where confirmatory tests could be carried out available across the country. The two centres are not adequate because some patient may even die before travelling to and from the centres where the tests could be done.”

Elegbede had warned  against eating rodents in a lecture he delivered as part of the activities to mark the 2014 World Health Organisation Day, by the FMC, Ido Ekiti.

He  said that 15 to 20 per cent of patients hospitalised due to Lassa fever infection always died. He said efforts should be made to get rid of the Lassa fever virus bearing rodents to safe humans from the devastation caused by the vector.

According to him, mastomys rodents shed Lassa fever virus in their urine and droppings. He said humans can contract the illness by coming in contact with these.

He said, “These rodents live around homes and some people sometimes consume them as food. Those consuming them stand a higher risk of getting infected with the virus. How much is a rat? It is better if we avoid eating rats.

“My advice is that we should avoid consuming rodents; there are other sources of protein. Between 15  and 20 per cent of patients hospitalised die.”

The Medical Director of FMC, Ido Ekiti,  Dr. Lawrence Majekodunmi, called on Nigerians to make conscious efforts to have a cleaner environment.  He said  with this,  vector borne diseases would be eradicated.

He said, “If we do more of this, we will have less of malaria, Lassa fever and other diseases. We should make it part of us because prevention is better than cure.”

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