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Arboviruses have become global threats

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By Mercy Kelani

They can spread through insect bites, especially through mosquito bites.

Study has it that arboviral infections are rapidly becoming a global public health issue owing to its sporadic spread and increasing fatality rate. These viruses are insect-borne or arthropod viruses. They can spread through insect bites, especially through mosquito bites. It was reported that people could also get infected through organ transplant, pregnancy, blood transfusion, sexual contact, and childbirth — from mother to child. Examples of these infections are Yellow Fever virus (YFV), Dengue virus (DENV), and Zika virus (ZIKV) — under the family of Flaviviridae.

Globally, dengue virus is considered as the most challenging as it infects 100 to 390 million people, causing 12,500 deaths every year. Zika virus is attached to various complications like Guillain-Barre Syndrome and some neurological disorders in adults, severe brain malformations, microcephaly, and other birth defects. In November 2020, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) confirmed an outbreak of Yellow Fever in Delta State. There were 48 suspected cases of the fever out of which 30 deaths (CFR 62.5 percent) were recorded.

WHO and national health organizations face the threat of the viruses.

These infections have been emerging and re-emerging as a result of factors such as increasing population growth and urbanization. These factors cause human crowding, increased waste generation, and provides a livable environment for vectors of these viruses. Human-human transmission has also been encouraged by rapid increase in people’s movement from one country to another. In many rural areas in Nigeria, screening for infections and manifestation of disease with feverish feelings are restricted to either typhoid or malaria.

Usually, in these rural areas, when the results for malaria and typhoid appear negative, further screenings for likely viral infections are not put into consideration. In these cases, patients who have immune systems that are able to fight the infection live, while those who do not die. Superstitiously, these kinds of deaths have been said to be mysterious. Threats from arboviral infections are growing into global concern because most infections that used to be localized are big spreading out to several nations across the world and becoming a threat to the World Health Organization (WHO) and national health organizations.

NCDC said these emerging diseases are under surveillance.

In the priority diseases list of WHO, arboviruses are of major priority. In Nigeria, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has stated that mosquito-borne infections caused by viruses like Dengue, Rift Valley fever, Yellow fever, Chikungunya, and other viral hemorrhagic fever viruses are emerging diseases that require attention, and are under surveillance. Of all these infections, yellow fever — caused by yellow fever virus — has been a recurrent concern as a result of its sporadic outbreak every year.

Environmental conditions of residential areas could contribute in nurturing vectors. Most times, people who reside in rural areas with the presence of bushes, untidy dark spots, stagnant bodies of water, and limited access so the use of insecticides and mosquito nets have more exposure to mosquito bites, and consequently, a higher risk of having fever. Although fever, as a symptom, is not tied to mosquito bites; in Africa, most cases of fever are as a result of mosquito bites.

It is necessary that a nationwide surveillance is done.

Additionally, in order to ensure effective prevention, control and management of disease outbreak, routine surveillance is necessary for investigation of levels of exposure and active infection with the global and national population. On the national level, it is necessary that a nationwide surveillance of these pathogens is carried out across the whole of Nigeria to foster an understanding of the true burden it places on the country. This surveillance will play a role in the effective management of febrile cases.

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