By Rafiu Ajakaye
Schools were shut across Nigeria’s southeastern Ebonyi state on Thursday to stop the spread of lassa fever which has killed three persons including two doctors in the past few days.
Prof. John Eke, education commissioner in Ebonyi, told a news briefing that all schools would remain shut for the next seven days while authorities battle to prevent the spread of the communicable disease.
The decision comes a day after a woman whose children attend school tested positive for the virus, said Eke.
“We believe that one of the best ways to handle the situation is to shut down our schools until we are sure that our pupils and students are safe,” he added.
“The schools will remain shut for seven schooldays to enable us to monitor the situation and we appeal to parents, guardians and school authorities to comply with the directive.”
Named after a Nigerian village where the virus was first discovered in 1969, Lassa fever is a type of viral hemorrhagic fever. The source of the virus is traced to some rats. Experts say symptoms may include fever, weakness, headaches, vomiting, muscle pains and bleeding from the mouth or gastrointestinal tract.
The disease is usually spread through contact with the urine or feces of an infected multimammate rat, or direct contact with an infected person.
The disease killed at least 101 people in Nigeria in 2016 and 80 in 2017, according to the Center for Disease Control.