• True, urine left in bladder may cause infections

    Claim: Urine left for long in the bladder can cause kidney infection, urinary tract infection, and other infections. 

    True, urine left in the body for long can cause infections to the human body. 

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    Sometimes,  people get busy and don’t urinate at the time they feel the urge but leave it till when the urge becomes unbearable. Are there dangers to this?

    Recently, a blog posted a claim that urine left in the bladder for long creates bacteria that can lead to kidney infections ,urinary tract infections and other related diseases.

    Screenshot of the claim 

    An Infection is the “invasion and growth of germs in the body. The germs may be bacteria, viruses, yeast, fungi, or other microorganisms. Infections can begin anywhere in the body and may spread all through it. An infection can cause fever and other health problems, depending on where it occurs in the body.”

    How true is this claim?


    Dubawa conducted some research to know if there are possible  effects of not urinating when the urge to do so started. 

    In some cases, holding in urine for too long can cause bacteria to multiply. This may lead to a urinary tract infection (UTI)”.

    No research has shown that holding in urine for a long time causes UTIs, but  doctors advise that it should be avoided,  especially if a person has a history of frequent UTIs.

    People who do not drink enough liquids may be more likely to develop a UTI because the bladder is not telling the body to urinate often enough. This can cause bacteria to spread through the urinary tract, leading to infection.

    Holding in urine may cause kidney stones to form in people with a history of the condition, or people who have a high mineral content in their urine. Pee often contains minerals such as uric acid and calcium oxalate.

    Experts Opinion 

     Dr Jemimah Abner of Surgery Department in State Specialist Hospital Gombe said urine left in the bladder for a very long time can cause UTI as well as affect the kidney.

    “Studies show that the human urine in the bladder is sterile but may be colonized by small numbers of microorganisms. While the urethra is colonized with a large number of microorganisms. 

    “UTI often occurs via the ascending route, where the micro-organisms from the urethra ascend into the bladder and would eventually affect the kidneys.

    The risk of coming down with UTI is high in females due to the anatomy of the urethra; the urethra is shorter than that of males and its proximity to the vaginal and the perianal areas.

    Abner added that retaining urine for long in the bladder can give room for these microorganisms to find their way into the bladder. But when one ensures he or she empties the bladder as frequently as possible, it helps eliminate some of these microorganisms from their hiding places.

    “It’s important to pass urine frequently and avoid the habit of holding urine for a long time even when pressed.

    It would not only stop at causing UTI but might eventually affect the kidneys,” she said. 

    Mrs Elizabeth Adekoya, a health personnel  working with Doma Clinic in Gombe said leaving urine to stay for too long is harmful to the body. 

    She added, ” it is bad to leave urine in the bladder especially for those having a history of infections as urine gives birth to bacteria. 


    Urine left in the bladder can cause bacteria in the human body, thereby causing infection.  

  • What role do “guesswork and logic” play in battling COVID-19?

    Several videos and sites, including the Nigerian Immigration Service, suggest wearing the coloured part of the surgical mask on your nose, as opposed to the orthodox approach. This method is perceived to prevent the breathing in of harmful particles.

    The coloured part of a mask is not designed to face your nose; this means it could make breathing through the cover even more uncomfortable. Your face mask, the surgical mask, should always be worn with the coloured part out. You can see a demonstration here.

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    The controversy over what side of the surgical face mask should face outward began long before the coronavirus pandemic. Back then, it was about this photo showing that masks should be worn with the coloured side in and the non-coloured side out. It seems the message got modified with the pandemic. Now, several actors claim that people should wear the shaded portion of the surgical face mask, facing inward. It further adds that wearing the white side outwards is necessary for people who are not sick.

    Facebook posts amid the global lockdown have further fuelled this method of wearing face masks.

    We also found an advisory on the Nigerian Immigration Service website, pointing out that the right way for healthy persons to wear a face mask is for the coloured side to face the wearer’s nose. But is this the right way to wear your surgical mask?

    Credit: Nigeria Immigration Service

    Surgical Mask, what is it?

    Firstly, while surgical masks are essential in clinical situations, they do not provide wholesome protection from viruses. Health practitioners mostly used them during surgical procedures, to prevent wound contamination or prevent the spread of respiratory infections generally between staff and patients.


    In design, these masks follow standards; separate countries have their own rules, such as the NIOSH in the USA, the EU standard, Chinese, etc. The specific filtration capacity of the mask is the reason for these standards. Going by this, there are two types of surgical masks.

    The first is the thinner single-use surgical mask (China standard YY/T0969); the second, the standard surgical mask (China standard YY0469) used in surgical theatres. Both vary in their functions; while the single-use surgical mask can only trap particles 3.0micron and above, the standard surgical mask can trap up to 30% of particles 1.0micron. 

    Necessity is indeed the mother of invention

    Simply put, the single-use surgical mask can trap dust or larger particles, while the standard surgical mask can trap bacteria and individual virus particles. Furthermore, you would be correct to speculate that Asia’s storied history with air pollution necessitated the design of the second type. In truth, this standard of face covers is not present in other countries’ categorisations. 

    In manufacture, the surgical mask consists of three layers of industrially-made fabric. The usually coloured layer (mostly coloured in green or blue)  is oily and non-absorbent, and functions to deter fluids and particles from sticking to it. The inner perforated layer traps particles, and the third (generally non-coloured) layer is more absorbent, to hold down moisture. 

    Credit: Centre for Health Protection, Hong Kong

    How does this design help with Infection Prevention? 

    It is important to remember that the intent of the surgical mask- to control infection in the hospital setting; its purpose is not just to prevent the spread of viruses, like the coronavirus. So, the non-coloured outer part is to help trap moisture and droplets such as those of a sneeze from the wearer while the inner layer is to trap bacteria and distinct virus particles, and the coloured slippery part helps to prevent fluid splashes and particles from sticking to the mask. In this manner, theatre staff and particularly the surgeon, do not infect patients or contaminate their surgical wounds. In essence, the cover’s design is to prevent the wearer from passing on the infection. It is perhaps this revelation that has precipitated most confusion around the subject, especially during this pandemic. 

    Best practices and civic responsibility

    In hospital settings, doctors and other practitioners used the surgical when treating patients with highly infectious respiratory diseases such as tuberculosis to prevent these patients from passing on such infections to their caregivers. In this case, the sick person puts on the mask and the caregiver too.

    However, over the years, Asian countries such as Japan, Korea, and China have popularised the wearing of surgical masks. People with the flu reportedly use these covers during the flu season to curb the transfer of the common cold; a responsible act, one might add. 

    How does the Surgical Mask prevent Coronavirus spread? Don’t pass it on!

    Primarily, the purpose of the surgical mask is to keep the wearer from transmitting infectious droplets to other persons. We also established that the non-coloured inner layer acts as a moisture absorbent. So, the misguided notion reasons that the practice of wearing the non-coloured inner part of the mask facing out ought to grant the wearer protection from breathing in infectious particles, as the absorbent layer would trap said particles. This hypothesis, however, is wrong because the surgical mask is not a respirator. It does not act as a single valve, allowing particles to flow in one direction. Respirators have a one-way valve, meaning they only allow filtered airflow into the mask. If the surgical mask had this one-way valve that oozed airflow out of the wearer, reversing it to filter breathed-in air would then make sense. But this is not the case. Interestingly, the one-way valve of respirators means the wearer can breathe out anything, including droplets, while the inner layer of the surgical mask can hold droplets from the wearer.

    The reason for advising its use is that if we all wear a mask, the surgical mask, then everyone gets to keep their infection to themselves, not passing it on to the next person(s). It is in a way following the Japanese ethics of wearing a mask during a flu season- don’t pass it on!

  • The Case for Garri and Lassa Fever

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    Expert cautions Nigerians not to drink garri, the popular Nigeria staple food. 

    The Guardian Nigeria, referencing NAN as its source published a story on the 18th of January 2020. The story cautions against the consumption of soaked Garri to avoid contacting Lassa fever. The Guardian attributed the warning to Dr Boniface Okolo. 

    The doctor claimed that rats are in contact with the most popular staple food ‘Garri’ which is a product of cassava. And, rats cause Lassa fever; hence necessitating the need to discourage Nigerians from consuming soaked Garri since it did not need boiled water. 

    He further explained that water at a boiling point could kill bacteria caused by pests or rodents. And since people usually soak ‘Garri’, not boil, we should avoid it. In one of the sentences, the report quoted him saying, “it is better the cassava flakes locally known as Garri be used for “eba…” 

    “We in the health ministry are waging war against rodents through sensitisation, that is what we are doing to ensure we do not have victims of Lassa fever in the state”

    Dr Okolo

    Also, a 2016 publication of  Kapital FM 92.9, another medical expert, says:

    “We are waging total war, and that is: War against Rats, and that is what we are going to do to ensure we do not have another victim of Lassa fever”.  

    A 2018 publication by Sahara reporters also agrees with this assertion amongst others.

    What is VHF?

    VHF stands for Viral hemorrhagic fevers– a group of viruses that interfere with the blood’s ability to clot. These fevers include Ebola and Marburg, Lassa fever and yellow fever viruses. Their threat level ranges from benign to life-threatening as the case may be. These viruses live in animals, especially rodents (Rats).

    Contact with infected animals, people or insects results in infection. While these viruses infect rodents or insects, they can also affect people exposed to the body, fluids or droppings of an infected rodent. So a bite from an infected mosquito or crushing an infected tick carrying VHF are sure ways of becoming infected. 

    Common symptoms of infected parties include:

    • Fever
    • Fatigue
    • Dizziness
    • Muscle aches
    • Loss of strength
    • Exhaustion

    Also, people with severe cases can exhibit the following symptoms:

    • Bleeding: (under the skin, internal organs, or from body openings like the mouth, eyes, or ears).
    • Shock
    • Seizures
    • Nervous system failure
    • Coma
    • Delirium
    • Kidney failure

    Brief History

    Lassa fever, discovered and named after a community in Borno state, is a viral haemorrhagic fever found in mastomys rodent or multimammate rats. These are rodents recognised by their pointed mouths and unique kind of odour.

    Image source: WHO

    Lassa fever is an animal-borne disease, that is, spread from animals to humans. Humans are infected if they come in contact with house-hold items, food, water, contaminated with the droppings or urine of an infected multimammate rat (mastomys).

    Multimamate rodents live throughout West Africa, and they can shed this virus without being ill themselves. People can become sick if they have contact with anything infected or contaminated by these rats.

    The incubation period of Lassa fever is between 6 – 21 days. Generally, symptoms begin with fever, general weakness, and malaise( a general feeling of discomfort). Subsequently, headache, sore throat, muscle pain, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, cough, and abdominal pain may follow.

    But in severe cases, there is facial swelling, fluid in the lung cavity, bleeding from the mouth, nose, vagina, or gastrointestinal tract and low blood pressure may develop. 


    Image source: Avon

    The Premise

    Rodents such as the rat that transmit Lassa fever virus lives around houses. Also, they have the habit of contaminating opened food with its excreta. We already established that the latter carries the virus. Additionally, once a rodent becomes a carrier of this fever, it will excrete the virus throughout the rest of its lifetime; thus, creating ample opportunity for exposure. 

    Consequently, all forms of food contaminated with the carrier’s (rat) urine, eaten without any processing (heat), creates room for transmission. Although, it is essential to note that some forms of bacteria- like Thermophilic– can thrive in high temperatures.   

    Why is Garri the subject of the conversation?

    If all food products are susceptible to this virus, why was garri singled out? The publication centred on garri because it is a staple food. It is a food that consumed without the “processing” we talked about earlier; it is more of a ready-made or “to-go” snack. For this reason, drinking garri produced or sold in an unhygienic condition or environment can expose the buyer to this virus. 

    While Garri is not the only food vulnerable to infection, there is hardly any ready-made food that is as popular as it. As a matter of fact, on occasion, people eat garri straight from the bag when buying from the market; in a bid to find out its “quality”. However, this advisory exempts eba, prepared with hot water, consequently killing the viral infection. 

    Also, food products such as rice, semovita, sugar, beans, millet, wheat etc. are susceptible to this infection; if they are not covered. But unlike garri, their preparation involves boiling.

    Prevent Lassa Fever

    Image source: NCDC

    General Hygiene is Essential

    General hygiene is critical and essential for controlling viral infection. Keeping your food items cooked, sealed or covered is imperative. Additionally, leaving utensils, pans and other items clean and germ-free are measures one should put in place to avoid viral infection.


    While soaked Garri may be a risk factor for Lassa fever, it boils down to several factors. The hygiene of both you and your vendor are criteria to consider as well. Keeping your house rodent-free is just as important.

  • Can you get HIV/AIDs from Fruit?

    Fruits sold in cut pieces are not only cheap but you also get a variety with less money. Not to mention, the importance of daily fruits intake, an important source of vitamins. All good right… but then comes this claim.

    So, should we abandon this medium of buying fruits -cut fruits from vendors? Are we vulnerable to contracting HIV?AIDS from vendors with hand injuries?

    What is HIV/AIDS?

    AIDS – Acronym for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome is a disease condition resulting from an HIV -Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection. AIDS occurs when a person infected with HIV is not treated. This usually happens between 5-10 years post-infection. Diagnosis occurs 3-4 months or even 6 months after infection.

    HIV/AIDS has been around for a little over 4 decades now from when HIV was first discovered in 1981. The virus, thought to have first originated from chimpanzee monkeys, has now become one of the world’s top killer infectious diseases.

    Within a person’s body, HIV attacks the immune system (the body’s defence mechanism) giving way for other infections, termed opportunistic infections in this instance, to also infect the body.

    How Does One Get Infected With HIV

    HIV infection often occurs through contact with infected blood, semen, pre-semen, vaginal or anal fluid and breastmilk. These fluids must come in contact with a person’s mucous membranes (found within the mouth, vagina, anus, & penis). Transmission through injection is also plausible. Poor snipping of the umbilical cord during childbirth is also a risk factor.

    The general advice is to avoid unprotected sexual intercourse, sharing needles, syringes or other sharp objects, or transfusion with unscreened infected blood.

    Same plot, different script

    During the early phase of HIV, there was a proliferation of transmission myths. This claim seems to follow the same line of false information and belief. Although acts such as kissing can predispose one to infection, the person infected has to have bruises or wounds in their mouth for transmission to occur.

    However, there has been evidence to show that HIV does not survive for a long time outside the body. This is the reason for the conclusion that HIV transmission cannot occur through saliva, sweat, tears or closed-mouth kissing. The same rationale applies to air, water, insect or pests bites; sharing toilets, utensils, food or drinks.

    How True Is This Message?

    It turns out this story has been around for a while now, as other sister fact-checking websites and Snopes show. Snopes further shows that this message which has been recirculating since at least May 2005 over the internet, has come in varied forms; the boy eating a pineapple from an infected vendor… being another example.

    “Except for rare cases in which children consumed food that was pre-chewed by an HIV-infected caregiver, HIV has not been spread through food. The virus does not live long outside the body. You cannot get it from consuming food handled by an HIV-infected person; even if the food contained small amounts of HIV-infected blood or semen, exposure to the air, heat from cooking, and stomach acid would destroy the virus”

    US Centre for Disease Control

    This is similar to all known information provided by the WHO about HIV transmission and developing AIDS.


    Foremost research and knowledge on the subject reveal that this claim is a hoax. Even so, HIV is still a global epidemic as UNAIDS tells us.
    Engaging in safe sexual practices (use of a condom), avoiding sharing sharp needles and objects, screening blood for transfusion and getting tested are the only means to remain safe.

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