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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Lassa fever grips Nigeria

Federal government blames local Authorities for lack of containment; virus has spread from ten to 17 states

Concern is growing in Nigeria, where an outbreak of Lassa fever - recently thought to be contained - continues to gain ground. The highly contagious disease was first diagnosed in early December, and recent reports had it contained to ten states; however, the latest data suggests that 17 states are now affected, with 63 people having lost their lives.

While federal Authority is blaming state governments for the recent issues regarding containment, scientists are less certain. Many are concerned that this is a new, deadly strain of the already horrific virus, while others suggest it is a precursor for a new Ebola event. Indeed, the two strains are similar in structure, and while Ebola treatment protocols have largely yielded positive results, tackling Lassa fever is a very different challenge.

Despite these facts local Authorities in the African nation continue to portray themselves as having the infection as under control. The World Health Organization [WHO] is questioning this, however, issuing an official warning that this event could become dire if not rigorously addressed. Many Nigerians appear to be siding with the WHO, as mistrust of Authority is fostering a level of fear bordering on near-panic.

According to researchers the region is entering the peak season for Lassa fever, and due to resources being exhausted fighting the recent Ebola outbreak few preparations have been made for said-season. While this hemorrhagic fever is not spread as easily as Ebola it is just as deadly, which has infectious diseases specialists on alert.

Speculation suggests that this data, combined with its mortality rate of nearly 70% and the fact the world outside of Africa is ignoring the outbreak, makes the possibility of this event becoming a global issue, in the weeks and months ahead, a frightening one. The 2014-2015 Ebola scare crossed borders, continents and oceans, after all, thus it makes sense this could do the same.

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