The Government of Liberia (GoL), through the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the National Public Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), has called on citizens to become more vigilant against reports of an outbreak of Lassa fever.
The ministry said it is placing the public on the alert, barely two months after health authorities declared a health emergency as a result of an outbreak of Lassa fever that has already claimed about 21 lives.
The call comes at a time when the Lassa fever virus is stubbornly stamping a foothold in the country.
Acting Director-General of the National Public Health Institute (NPHIL), Dr. Mosoka Fallah, told reporters that the disease has so far affected five of the 15 counties.
He said that NPHIL and the Ministry of Health are doing everything possible to contain the outbreak.
At a press conference on Friday, November 8, Dr. Fallah said that the public needs to be informed adequately in order to help contain the spread of the disease as was done with the Ebola epidemic in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
“We need to adequately inform our people about this health problem. There is no need to hide the information. It is better we put the information out there as well as the situation we are dealing with and how we can prevent it.
“It is important that we raise this and let the general public know that there are a couple of things they can do,” he added.
The disease has so far spread across Nimba, Grand Bassa, Bong, Margibi, Lofa and Grand Kru counties.
People contract the Lassa virus by exposure to urine or feces of infected rodents or rats. Other than common preventive measures such as washing hands regularly, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended keeping cats to hunt the rats.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Wilhemina Jallah, said that there are specific counties that are prone to the Lassa fever outbreak but, because of the level of work that NPHIL has been doing, health authorities have been able to catch a lot of cases in the Lassa Fever outbreak.
“We are able to resolve a lot of issues that we don’t usually bring to the attention of the public through the press,” Dr. Jallah said, adding: “Lassa is an issue that the public should know, and should know how to manage and should be on the alert or lookout for persons coming with such a condition.”