Lassa Fever: Lagos Calls For Calm, Advises Public On Safety Precautions

 Lassa Fever: Lagos Calls For Calm, Advises Public On Safety Precautions

The Lagos State Government has called on residents to be calm and not panic, assuring them that Federal Governments in active collaboration with the State Government is doing everything possible to control the spread of the Lassa Fever disease in Lagos State.

In a statement issued on Wednesday by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Primary Health Care, Dr. Olufemi Onanuga, the government noted that the Ministry of Health in line with international standards is currently carrying out ‘contact tracing’ to determine those who may have been infected adding that isolation centres have been prepared to manage suspected and confirmed cases while drugs and other materials have also been prepositioned at designated facilities.

The Special Adviser, while confirming five cases of the disease, stated that two deaths have been recorded noting that the remaining three patients are responding to treatment in designated isolation centres.

He noted that the first case of the disease; a 32 year old lady with bleeding complications of pregnancy died at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) on the 25th of July and had a post-mortem examination performed on the 27th of July with the result of viral studies coming out positive for Lassa fever on the 29th of July.

“The second case, a known sickle cell disease patient, died on the 5th of August also at LUTH. He was said to have travelled to one of the neighboring states before coming down with the disease. The two cases have since been buried in line with prescribed international standards”, he explained.

The Special Adviser stated that the health personnel who came in direct contact with the patients are still being followed up for early signs of Lassa fever. He added that three health workers who developed symptoms have tested positive and are on admission receiving treatment in an isolation ward in LUTH.

Onanuga 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 stressed the need for 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 also explained that Lassa fever is 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, facemasks, 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.

Lagos residents are also advised 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.

Tolani Giwa

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