Abstract
LASSA FEVER IN NIGERIA: CULTURAL COMPETENCE IN COMMUNICATING PUBLIC HEALTH CONTENT

Chinonye Ojibe*

ABSTRACT

Lassa fever is an acute viral illness that occurs in west Africa. The disease was discovered in 1969 when two missionary nurses died in Nigeria. The virus was named after the town in Nigeria where the first cases occurred (CDC 2015). Some people who get infected have few or no symptoms. Others get what appears to be a mild flu or malaria. Severe cases can cause renal failure, Deafness, and, for pregnant women, spontaneous abortion. While Lassa can be deadly, it has a lower fatality rate than Ebola. More than half of confirmed Ebola patients die versus roughly 20 percent of people with Lassa. Amid the viruses creating severe hemorrhagic fever in Africa, Lassa fever is a compelling public health problem in Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Republic of Guinea. The current Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria shows an increasing trend in cases and deaths in recent weeks, with 317 confirmed cases reported in 2018 (National Institutes of Health (NIH) 2018). According to the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) genomic analysis, a rise in Lassa fever cases in Nigeria in 2018 does not appear to be part of any single virus strain or increased human-to-human transmission. (NIH 2018)

Keywords: Lassa fever, cultural competence, public health.


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