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Lassa fever: Lagos calls for calm

  • LUTH confirms 3 cases on admission, says they are responding to treatment

L-R: Deputy Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH); Dr. Adetola Ademola; Chief Medical Advisory Committee, Dr. Olufemi Fasanmade; Chief Medical Director, Prof. Chris Bode; Director of Administration, Mr. Babajide Grillo and Director, Disease Control, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr. Eniola Erinosho at the press briefing in LUTH.

The Chief Medical Director of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Prof. Chris Bode, today confirmed that three out of the 100 people  on surveillance, following their contact with the dead Lassa fever patients, are currently receiving treatment at the hospital, having tested positive to the disease.

The Lagos State government also urged residents not to panic,  saying the Federal Government, in active collaboration with the State Government is doing everything possible to control the spread of the disease in the state.

At a media briefing  by LUTH management and officials of the Lagos State Ministry of Health, Prof. Bode disclosed that the current outbreak has been effectively traced and those exposed to the index case are receiving good treatment of international standard,.

“Nobody has been  quarantined,” he said, adding that normal LUTH patients are still receiving their treatment while doctors, nurses and other medical staffs are going on with their normal activities

“One person came down with confirmed Lassa fever about four days ago while others were suspected but follow up. We have suspected cases and confirmed cases, the confirmed cases are on full treatment while the suspected cases are being investigated and if it turns out to be Lassa fever, they will be properly treated.” He said.

The LUTH CMD disclosed that the first case of Lassa fever, a 32-year old lady described as  “Mrs S”  was admitted to the hospital on July 25 with bleeding complications of pregnancy.

“She died same day and had a post-mortem examination performed on the 27th of July. Results of  viral studies came out positive for Lassa on 29th July.  She was from Imota, Ikorodu.”

The second case, according to Prof. Bode, was that of a known sickle cell anaemia patient, referred to as “Mr. O” who got to the hospital on August 5 and died the same day.

“He was said to have travelled to one of the neighbouring states before coming down with the disease.

“All these have been happening since on the 25th of July. The common thing with the two cases was that they were earlier managed at private hospitals before being referred to LUTH. We profiled and counselled  all those that had contact with them and we are happy that all of them are okay.

“The LUTH personnel who came in contact directly with the first patient were close to 100 and they were swiftly informed and each one is still being followed up for any early signs of Lassa fever. Of the 100, three persons who developed symptoms tested positive and have been on admission and receiving treatment in our isolation ward in LUTH,” Prof. Bode said.

The Director,  Disease Control  of the Lagos State Ministry of Health Dr. Eniola Erinosho, also at the briefing, disclosed that the ministry was notified of the index case on August 3 and the Commissioner immediately directed the state health officials to move to the hospital.

“I can say without any doubt that the team has been in LUTH since then and we have been collaborating and figures were made available to us by the hospital management.

“Presently, we have about 100 people which we are in contact with in LUTH.  What that means is that we need to monitor them for some time and we have provided them with thermometers and the essence is to ensure that they alert us in case they develop any fever.

“We have actually tested about five and three have been positive. They are being well managed. LUTH is collaborating with the ministry. We are on top of the situation and there should be no panic.

“The first case mentioned was referred from Divine Grace Hospital, Imota.  We have been to Imota and taken charge of the situation.  Lucky for them, none of them has actually come down with fever. Today is 14 days of monitoring and we hope in the next seven days they will be discharged from the monitoring list.”

Meanwhile, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Primary Health Care, Dr. Olufemi Onanuga, also disclosed that Laboratory tests on two other suspected cases at Mainland Hospital referred from General Hospital, Lagos and a private hospital in Imota were negative.

He urged members of the public to ensure and maintain adequate personal and environmental hygiene at all times as part of the precautionary measures to prevent the outbreak of the disease in the State.

Onanuga also advised members of the public to avoid contact with rats, to always cover their food and water properly, cook all their food thoroughly, as well as block all hideouts and holes through which rats can enter the house.

He described Lassa fever as an acute viral infection caused by the Lassa virus that is associated with persistent high fever, adding that as the disease progresses into a severe form, the patient begins to develop facial swelling, fluid in the chest, bleeding from the mouth, nose, vagina and the gut, low blood pressure, shock, disorientation, coma and kidney and liver failure.

According to him, other usual symptoms include general weakness of the body, malaise headache, sore throat, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Health workers are also advised to ensure that they take universal safety precautions when dealing with patients, stressing that appropriate personal protective clothings like hand gloves, face masks, goggles and overall must be worn when attending to cases.

“Hands must be washed after each contact with patient or contaminated materials, instruments must be decontaminated between each use by rinsing them in disinfectant solution and the use of a plastic sheet is essential to avoid the contamination of mattresses. They must be large enough to cover the entire mattress, be waterproof, and be thoroughly disinfected after the discharge or the death of patients”,  Onanuga added.

He advised Lagos residents  to report suspected case or cases of the disease symptoms or persistent high fever not responding to standard treatment for malaria and typhoid fever to the nearest health facility adding that the Ministry of Health’s Epidemiology Unit is currently intensifying surveillance activities.

“Lagosians are urged to contact the Directorate of Disease Control in the State Ministry of Health or the following telephone numbers 08022234273, 08037170614 and 08023169485 for further clarifications on the disease” Onanuga said.

  • Additional Reports by Juliet Umeh

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