Lassa fever awareness and knowledge among community residents in Ondo State, Nigeria
Background: The Lassa fever outbreak in Ondo State in 2018 recorded high morbidity and mortality. This study was conducted to assess awareness and knowledge of Lassa fever preventive measures among community residents in the affected areas in order to guide risk communication interventions.
Methods: A community-based descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted in six affected Local Government Area (LGAs), involving heads of households selected using a multistage sampling technique. A structured pre-tested questionnaire was administered to 2992 consenting study participants and data was analysed using IBM Statistical Package for Social Sciences version 20.0.
Results: Over three quarters 2, 537 (84.8%) of respondents were aware of Lassa fever of which 2, 363 (93.1%) knew that multimammate rat transmits the disease to humans. Also, 1804 (71.1%) knew that washing hands regularly could prevent the disease. However, only 845 (33.3%) of the respondents who reported awareness of the disease knew that cooking all foods properly before eating could prevent the disease. The predictors of good knowledge of Lassa fever were being a female (p= 0.017), having secondary or tertiary education (p=0.001), and currently married or divorced (p=0.01).
Conclusion: A high level of awareness, but inadequate knowledge of some preventive measures of Lassa fever were observed among community members. Risk communication messages should focus more on preventive measures of the disease targeting young males with low education in these LGAs, the epicentres of the outbreak.
Keywords: Awareness; Knowledge; Lassa fever; Risk communication; Ondo State