Viral Hemorrhagic Fever is currently spreading around Nigeria like a wild fire in the past months. This post it aimed at sensitizing the citizenry of the deadly viral fever and the need to be cautious.
The term Viral hemorrhagic fever is general term for infectious diseases that interfere with the blood’s ability to clot. These diseases can also damage the walls of tiny blood vessels, making them leaky. Bleeding can be external and internal and the result range from minor to fatal.
Some Common Types of Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers:
- Yellow fever
- Rift Valley fever
- Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF)
All Viral hemorrhagic fevers are spread by contact with infected animals, people or insects. No current treatment can cure viral hemorrhagic fevers, and immunizations exist for only a few types. Until additional vaccines are developed, the best approach is prevention.
The disease is very common in the tropical part of the world, Nigeria is one of such country.
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The Symptoms Of Viral Hemorrhagic Fever
Researches on VHF has shown that the following symptoms are common to victims:
- High fever
- Muscle, bone or joint aches
- Abdominal pain
- Sore throat
- Chest pain
The Nigerian Case : Yellow Fever
According to a viral Whatsapp post by a certain Dr Elvis Imafidon, many cases of death have been recorded for an ailment called for now hemorrhagic fever mainly in Uhubhonde, Igieduma, Ehor and Ekpoma all in Edo State. Many of the victims have experienced the following symptoms: Pain in the muscles, abdomen or joints, Vomiting, Dark stool, Diarrhea, Fever, Chills, Low blood pressure, Headache, Nosebleed, Eye redness, and Internal bleeding.
I did a few digging on my own and I found out the Nigeria’s Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) are currently monitoring cases not just in Edo State but also in 13 other states. This is a serious issue and it is getting under reported.
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Dr Elvis Imafidon in his viral post confirmed the following about the about the out break in Edo State:
1. That in the last one week 3 persons have died in Ekpoma (e.g. one in Uhiele, one along the express). And many more in and around Ehor
2. At first when they started receiving reports of cases, they felt it was lassa fever. But all test always tested negative to lassa fever. So the person just end up dying. Such death is very fast within 3 days of infection.
3. That in the last few days at their research lab in UCH Ibadan (and here is some good news), they have been able to know that what is common to all the cases tested is yellow fever, which indicates that it might actually be a form of yellow fever outbreak. While this is still being confirmed, it is advisable that if anyone can get the yellow fever vaccine, they should take it immediately.
4. The WHO personnel and her team will be at ISTH @Irrua tomorrow, Friday 23/11/18 to sensitise health workers. And that yellow fever vaccine will be made readily available at the federal hospital and health centres within our communities within a week.
Different test results have confirmed the Viral hemorrhagic fever cases in Nigeria as Yellow Fever. NCDC report shows that a yellow fever outbreak is currently active in Nigeria. Confirmed cases have been recorded in 14 States: Kwara, Kogi, Kano, Zamfara, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Niger, Katsina, Edo, Ekiti, Rivers, Anambra, FCT, and Benue. All healthcare workers are advised to be cautious and alert in their dealings with individuals, especially those coming from the affected states and presenting with the classical signs and symptoms of YELLOW fever.
Yellow fever is caused by a virus (Flavivirus) which is transmitted to humans by the bites of infected aedes and haemogogus mosquitoes. The mosquitoes either breed around houses (domestic), in forests or jungles (wild), or in both habitats (semi-domestic).
Some viral hemorrhagic fevers also can be transmitted from person to person, and can spread if an infected person travels from one area to another.
The disease can only spread easily if that country has mosquito species able to transmit it, specific climatic conditions and the animal reservoir needed to maintain it. The Aedes aegypti and other Aedes species of mosquitoes are the main cause of Yellow Fever.
Some specific viral hemorrhagic fevers are spread by mosquito or tick bites. Others are transmitted by contact with infected blood or semen. A few varieties can be inhaled from infected rat feces or urine.
The yellow fever virus is an arbovirus of the flavivirus genus and is transmitted by mosquitoes, belonging to the Aedes and Haemogogus species. The different mosquito species live in different habitats – some breed around houses (domestic), others in the jungle (wild), and some in both habitats (semi-domestic).
The virus is very potent, any exposure can lead to being infected or even death. Simply living in or traveling to an area where a particular viral hemorrhagic fever is common will increase your risk of becoming infected with that particular virus. Several other factors can increase your risk even more, including:
- Working with the sick
- Slaughtering infected animals
- Sharing needles to use intravenous drugs
- Having unprotected sex
- Working outdoors or in rat-infested buildings
Prevention and Control
To prevent a viral hemorrhagic fevers, especially in developing nations like Nigeria is difficult yet simple. According to Mayo clinic article on the topic the social, economic and ecological factors that contribute to the sudden appearance and spread of infectious diseases. Things like war, displacement, destruction of habitat, lack of sanitation and proper medical care — are problems that have no easy solutions.
Yellow fever can be prevented through vaccination and mosquito control.
The yellow fever vaccine is safe and affordable, and a single dose provides life-long immunity against the disease.
Mosquito control can also help to prevent yellow fever.This is important where vaccination coverage is low or the vaccine is not immediately available. Mosquito control includes eliminating sites where mosquitoes can breed, and killing adult mosquitoes and larvae by using insecticides in areas with high mosquito density. Community involvement through activities such as cleaning household drains and covering water containers where mosquitoes can breed is a very important and effective way to control mosquitoes.
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Nothing beat a good and early supportive treatment in hospitals.Early treatment surely improves survival rates. There is currently no specific anti-viral drug for yellow fever but specific care to treat dehydration, liver and kidney failure, and fever improves outcomes. Associated bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics. If infected vaccine is no longer effective.
When To See A Doctor
If you develop signs and symptoms once you return home, consult a doctor. It is best you visit a doctor that focuses on infectious diseases and epidemics. A specialist may be able to recognize and treat your illness faster. Be sure to let your doctor know what areas you’ve visited.
A need for Caution and not Panic
It is obvious deadly but you don”t need not go into panic mode. Here are a few tips to apply as you go on with your life:
- Always perform good hand hygiene, including regular hand washing with soap. This is especially important before eating and after using the toilet.
2. Prepare your own food rather than buy cooked food from outside.
3. As much as possible, avoid shaking hands and hugging because it is so easily contactable. And do not be offended if others decline to shake your hand.
4. Avoid large crowds, public transportation and funerals as much as possible especially funerals where the dead died after a very brief unexplained illness.
If there is out break in your area don’t panic because World Health Organisation (WHO) have promised a rapid and effective response to outbreaks. The organisation says an emergency stockpile of 6 million doses of yellow fever vaccine, funded by Gavi, is continually replenished. This emergency stockpile is managed by the International Coordinating Group for Vaccine Provision, for which WHO serves as secretariat.
It is expected that by the end of 2026, more than 1 billion people will be protected against yellow fever through vaccination.