Lassa Fever Update: Red alert in states
More states in the country have put their citizens on red alert following the outbreak of Lassa fever in 10 states of the federation. While a few of the states initially listed to have recorded cases, such as Oyo and Bauchi, announced that the disease had not spread to their shores, NHO investigations however showed that most states have adopted measures to curtail the spread of the disease, as indicated in the updates below:
Yobe sensitises health workers
Health workers in Yobe have been put on alert to watch out for patients with high grade fever and other symptoms of Lassa fever.
Dr Bello Kawuwa, the state Commissioner for Health, stated this on Monday in Damaturu at the inauguration of the Task Force on Immunisation and Primary Healthcare.
He charged members of the public and medical practitioners to observe universal precautions in handling excreta, vomits and other fluids of patients.
The commissioner assured that Yobe government would liaise with other stakeholders in handling any possible outbreak “like we partnered during the Ebola threat.”
Edo discharges 3
Three persons infected with Lassa fever have been treated and discharged from the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital in Edo State, according to the state commissioner for Health, Dr. Heregie Aihanuwa. The commissioner also confirmed that the state had recorded one death from the disease while another patient is still on admission at the hospital.
Dr. Aihanuwa said the state government had begun sensitization programme on Lassa fever to rural communities. Also, health workers in the state have been instructed to look out for symptoms of Lassa fever and refer suspected cases.
The Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital Nigeria’s also hosts the nation’s Lassa Fever Research and Control centre.
Oyo denies cautions citizens against rodent consumption
Acting Director of Public Health, Oyo state, Dr Taiwo Ladipo, has denied reports of Lassa fever outbreak in the state, saying the three suspected cases reported and diagnosed at the University College Hospital (UCH) had no feature of the disease.
Dr. Ladipo however cautioned citizens of the state against consumption of rodents and urged them to avoid contact with the blood, urine and faeces of rats when killing them as a preventive measure against Lassa fever.
He also disclosed that an emergency preparedness team of stakeholders had met to prepare a response protocol in case of any outbreak of the disease.
The Acting Director of Public Health disclosed that the state’s ministry of health had supplied ribavirin, the specific antiviral drug for Lassa fever treatment, as well as protective apparels to UCH to reduce contact between healthcare workers and potential cases.
Dr. Ladipo advised citizens to avoid eating rodents and keep them away from their homes. “Food items should preferably be kept in sealable containers to prevent contamination with urine or faeces of rodents. There is the need for proper personal and household management of refuse. Indiscriminate dumping of refuse should be avoided as these are potential breeding grounds for vermin.”
Ogun to introduce vaccination
Although no known vaccine has been found for the prevention of Lassa fever, the Ogun State government has announced it would be taking delivery of a vaccine with a potential to cure the disease.
In an interview with journalists last week at a sensitization meeting for the 2016 Measles Follow-Up Campaign in the State, the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Babatunde Ipaye said: “ I have spoken with the Minister for Health on how to get the vaccines and he has assured us of the delivery of a type of vaccine that has the potential to cure the diseases permanently.”
The Commissioner said the state government would increase awareness on how to prevent the disease from spreading across the state. He also pleaded with council bosses to spread the campaign against the disease across the state saying he had directed the health ministry’s Directorate of Public Health, to embark on a vigorous campaign in both the print and electronic media so as to sensitise citizens of the state on how to combat the disease.
Benue on ‘Watch Out’
Even with a suspected case under investigation health officials in Benue state told the News agency of Nigeria no confirmed case of Lassa fever has been reported in the state. But the Benue State University Teaching Hospital (BSUTH said it had received a case suspected to be Lassa fever and had commenced immediate investigations.
Prof. Abraham Malu, the hospital’s Medical director, said that the blood sample of the patient had been taken to a laboratory outside the state for confirmation, adding that the hospital was treating the patient for other aspects of Malu however said that the hospital was ready for any eventuality, as there was a team on ground for such emergencies.
His counterpart at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Makurdi, Dr Peteru Inunduh, also confirmed that no case of Lassa fever has been reported in the hospital,
“We are on the watch out. We have a team on ground to monitor all patients 24 hours daily to detect cases that may be similar to Lassa fever for quick action,” he said.
The two hospitals are the main tertiary institutions in the state with the equipment for the treatment of such a disease.
4 suspected cases in Bauchi
Briefing journalists in Bauchi, the Permanent Secretary in the state Ministry of Health, Saidu Gital, disclosed that the state had four suspected cases. Three of the cases, according to him were found to be negative while the laboratory result on the fourth case was pending.
“The fourth person accidentally came from Kanam Local Government Area of Plateau, but the result is being awaited,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary however disclosed that the Federal Ministry of Health had supplied the state with protective equipment and Ribavirin tablets as well as injectable drugs for use when any case was confirmed.
Lagos out with public notice
Any sick person with symptoms such as fever, headache, chills, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, sore throat, backache, and joint pains, should be suspected for Lassa Fever, Lagos State ministry of health, have said.
This was contained in a recent released by its Permanent Secretary, Dr. Adeola Salako. According to the statement, any persons who present with above symptoms with a positive history of being in contact with a suspected or infected person, or health worker who had treated either suspected or confirmed infected person, could be carrying the disease until proven otherwise.
“The public should also report any cases of above symptoms or persistent high fever not responding to standard treatment for malaria and typhoid fever to the nearest health center.
Early symptoms of the disease which occur within 3 weeks of coming in contact with the virus includes; fever, headache, chills, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, sore throat, backache, and joint pains.
“Late symptoms include bleeding from the eyes, ears and nose, bleeding from the mouth and rectum, eye swelling, swelling of the genitals and rashes all over the body that often contain blood. It could progress to coma, shock and death. Those at the highest risk include health workers, families and friends of an infected person in the course of feeding, holding and caring for them”, it said.
For prevention and control of Lassa fever, the Lagos Ministry of Health advises people to: avoid contact between rats and human beings, observe good personal hygiene, Dispose wastes appropriately and clean their environment well in other to prevent rats from entering the house, store foods in rat proof containers and cook all foods thoroughly before eating, discourage rodents from entering the house by blocking all possible entry points. It also called on food manufacturers and handlers, not to spread food where rats can have access to it.
Although Lassa fever can be treated, it said the earlier a person presents, the better the outcome of treatment.
The statement warned against direct contact with a sick person’s blood or body fluids, since the disease can be contracted through body fluid. “All fluids from an infected person are extremely dangerous. Health workers are also advised to be at alert, wear personal protective equipment, observe universal basic precautions, nurse suspected cases in isolation and report same to the LGA or Ministry of Health immediately. For more information please contact the Directorate of Disease Control, Lagos State Ministry of Health on 08037170614, 08023169485”