NIGERIA / LASSA FEVER COMMUNITIES

14-Mar-2018 00:02:39
In Nigeria’s Edo State, where Lassa fever has spread since early January 2018, the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC), local authorities, the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners are reaching out to communities with a large-scale awareness raising campaign. WHO
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STORY: NIGERIA / LASSA FEVER COMMUNITIES
TRT: 02:39
SOURCE: WHO
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 01 AND 03 MARCH 2018, EDO STATE, NIGERIA
SHOTLIST
01 MARCH 2018, EDO STATE, NIGERIA

1. Wide shot, WHO Edo State Coordinator Faith Ireye leading a community sensitization meeting on Lassa fever
2. Med shot, women holding poster
3. Close up, community leaders listening
4. Various shots, Faith Ireye leading a community sensitization session on Lassa fever
5. Various shots, community leaders listening
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Grace Ireotoi, WHO Officer, saying:
“We find out that if we are able to take these messages to the grassroots, we will be able to interrupt this outbreak. So every community leader is here now, every town announcer is here. We expect every town announcer to go back to each settlement, each community, to take this message back.”
7. Wide shot, people standing outside community hall listening to Ireye
8. Various shots, woman placing garri into a bag in the market
9. Wide shot, Ireye and a WHO colleague walking in community
10. Wide shot, settlement

03 MARCH 2018, ETSUKI WEST, EDO STATE, NIGERIA

11. Wide shot, Ireye speaking to community members
12. SOUNDBITE (English) Faith Ireye, WHO Edo State Coordinator, saying:
“If contact tracing is not done, people stay in their homes, they become symptomatic, they are positive, they die in their homes, and they infect more people, thereby making the outbreak bigger and bigger. So stopping the outbreak is a problem if contact tracing is not well done.”
13. Med shot, Nafissa Ikerodah, Disease Surveillance Officer, handing out thermometers to people who are being followed as contacts of Lassa fever patients
14. SOUNDBITE (English) Nafissa Ikerodah, Disease Surveillance Officer, saying:
“They are always scared. The first time we come, there are those who agree to give their phone number and address. Immediately you come and tell them that you are from ISTH or that you are the disease surveillance officer, so supposing the house is positive, they are always scared.”
15. Various shots, woman with thermometer under her armpit
16. Various shots, rats in a basket in a household
17. Wide shot, Ireye walks up to household which is keeping garri out in the sun, instructing them to put it away
18. Wide shot, members of household wrapping up their garri
STORYLINE
Working with communities is critical to containing infectious disease outbreaks. In Nigeria’s Edo State, where Lassa fever has spread since early January 2018, the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC), local authorities, the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners are reaching out to communities with a large-scale awareness raising campaign.

Sensitization sessions are being held in all 18 health districts with community leaders, town announcers, school headmasters, and other key community members.

The Lassa virus is transmitted to humans mainly through handling rats, food or household items contaminated by rats’ urine and faeces. The virus can spread between people through direct contact with the body fluids of a person infected with Lassa fever, as well as contaminated bedding and clothing.

Community members are being advised of a range of preventive measures, including washing hands regularly, storing food in containers with lids, keeping their homes clean and tidy to discourage rats from entering, cooking foods thoroughly, and even keeping cats.

WHO Officer Grace Ireotoi said “if we are able to take these messages to the grassroots, we will be able to interrupt this outbreak. So every community leader is here now, every town announcer is here. We expect every town announcer to go back to each settlement, each community, to take this message back.”

Garri, which is made from cassava tubers, is a staple food in this part of Nigeria. Traditionally, families have left the crushed cassava outside in the sun to dry out, but this practice can expose the food to rats, which are carriers of the Lassa virus.

Community engagement is also important to identify people who have come into contact with Lassa fever patients, and refer them for monitoring or even treatment.

Faith Ireye, WHO’s Edo State Coordinator and Nafissa Ikerodah, Disease Surveillance Officer for Edo State’s Etsako West health district, visited families to gather information on all the possible contacts of sick people so they can be monitored for signs of Lassa fever.

Ireye said “if contact tracing is not done, people stay in their homes, they become symptomatic, they are positive, they die in their homes, and they infect more people, thereby making the outbreak bigger and bigger. So stopping the outbreak is a problem if contact tracing is not well done.”

Ikerodah records the names and telephone numbers of people who have come into contact with the confirmed Lassa fever cases, as well as the date of their last meeting with the patient. She hands out individual thermometers to the contacts so they can check their own temperature daily. She comes back every day for the next 21 days to note their temperature. If anyone is suspected of having Lassa fever, they will be taken to the hospital for a confirmatory test and, if positive, provided with care in a special isolation unit.

But this is no easy task, as sometimes people can be reluctant to cooperate.

Ikerodah said “they are always scared. The first time we come, there are those who agree to give their phone number and address. Immediately you come and tell them that you are the disease surveillance officer, so supposing the house is positive, they are always scared.”

More than 3,000 contacts of the 353 confirmed cases in Nigeria have been identified, and almost half have completed their 21 days of monitoring.

In one house, Ireye and her team find a basket full of rats, being kept as pets by a boy.

Nearby, garri is being dried in the sun. Ireye quickly advises the members of the household to cover the food to protect against Lassa fever.
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