The Liberia College of Physicians and Surgeons (LCPS) has warned that the country might experience another zoonotic disease outbreak if prevention and control practices like regular hand washing are not taken seriously.
A zoonotic disease is an infectious disease caused by bacteria, virus or parasites which spread from animals to humans. The Ebola Virus disease and recent Lassa fever outbreak are examples of zoonotic diseases.
LCPS President, Dr. Benjamin L. Harris, said Liberians are becoming more exposed to zoonotic disease due to increased human mobility, increased proximity between humans and animals,’ commercials trade in animals and eating of bushmeat.
“To reduce risks of emerging zoonotic infectious diseases, there is a need for continuous infection prevention and control practices at all levels, holding regular public awareness campaigns on threats and risks of zoonotic disease, and the banning of wild animals trade,” Dr. Harris added.
The LCPS is the government of Liberia’s flagship Program established by law in 2012 to train Liberian Medical Specialists who will demonstrate the highest standard of medical excellence across the fifteen counties of Liberia.
A recent report suggests that the case of Lassa fever is on the increase in Nimba Country as many people there are becoming ill, thereby over-stretching the Ganta United Methodist hospital’s ability to respond swiftly to patients coming down with the disease.
According to the Ministry of Health data, the country had a total of 92 suspected Lassa Fever cases between January 1 and August 25, 2019, including 21 deaths.
However, since January 2020, Liberia has recorded a total of 55 suspected cases across the country, among them, a total of 24 confirmed cases with nine associated deaths have been reported from nine health districts in six counties. So far, Grand Bassa and Bong counties account for 20 of the confirmed cases.
Dr. Harris further explained that as the global community grapples with the threat posed by the deadly coronavirus, Liberians have to be mindful of zoonotic Infectious Disease by regularly observing preventive health measures.
According to the LCPS President, most emerging infectious diseases in Liberia are considered to be of zoonotic origin.
The statement further revealed that zoonotic disease continued to have a high toll on human society and that numerous scientific studies have shown that human activities such as deforestation, agriculture intensification, and urbanization are contributing factors to the increase in zoonotic infectious diseases.
“There is increased fear of individuals and families to take care of their health by implementing all necessary measures, including hand washing to prevent contacting and spreading zoonotic diseases,” said Dr. Harris.
Meanwhile, the LCSP President has commended health authorities and the government of Liberia for preventive measures taken so far and encouraged the health them to increase surveillance and put in place additional measures to forestall any outbreak of the disease in Liberia.