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Lassa fever is raging, but just 8 in 10 Nigerians know about it

Only eight in every 10 Nigerians are aware of the ongoing epidemic of Lassa fever, even though the epidemic has been raging for nine weeks since January, a new NOIPolls survey suggests.

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The survey, conducted from February 5, was released on Tuesday as the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control announced 35 confirmed infections of Lassa on record in one week alone.

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EpiAfric commissioned the survey to gauge knowledge about Lassa fever, an almost annual outbreak that this time has killed 110 people since January 1.

Polltakers surveyed perceived opinions on how the Lassa fever virus, which resides in multimammate rats, is transmitted.

Eighty-six in 100 people said transmission was possible through rats infecting food stuff, nine in 10 people say transmission is possible in ‘eating bush meat” and three in 100 by “eating rat meat”.

Fewer people associated risk of Lassa fever infection with providing care for ill loved ones or patients.

Only seven in 10 people survey believed transmission was possible through contact with infected people and one in 100 thought transmission was possible through contact with health care workers.

At least 16 health workers have been infected in the outbreak since January, prompting the NCDC to issue an advisory for health workers to maintain “high index of suspicion” when dealing with fevers and to ensure universal precaution and hygiene.

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