Lassa fever: Lagos urges calm as three test positive

Officials confirmed yesterday three more cases of  Lassa fever in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial and business honeypot.

But the state government urged residents not to panic as it is on top of the situation.

Two persons infected with the disease have died at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH),  Idi-Araba. A resident doctor who participated in the autopsy on the cases got infected.

Yesterday, three of the 100 people being traced in connection with the treatment of the cases were declared positive after tests.

The three, like the doctor, are being treated at the hospital’s isolation ward.

Four people were quarantined for clinical analysis in Yobe State, according to Commissioner for Health  Dr Bello Kawuwa.

Kawuwa told reporters in Damaturu that seven people were initially hospitalised, but three had been discharged after clinical analyses.

The commissioner said though earlier results did not indicate that the four people had Lassa fever, a second laboratory test would be carried out on them.

“We will let you know when the result of the second laboratory test is released.

“We have isolated the cases to prevent unnecessary contact.

“Our epidemic response team has also gone to the affected communities to carry out contact-tracing as well as enlighten the people on how to deal with the situation,” Kawuwa said.

In a statement, the government of Lagos State urged residents not to panic, as the state and the Federal Government were doing everything possible to control the spread of the diseases.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Primary Health Care, Dr. Olufemi Onanuga, who issued the statement, added that the Ministry of Health, in line with international standards, ”is currently carrying out ‘contact tracing’ to determine those who may have been infected. 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 confirming five cases of the disease, said two deaths had been recorded, noting that the remaining three patients were responding to treatment in designated isolation centres.

The first case of the disease; a 32-year-old woman with bleeding complications of pregnancy, died at LUTH on July 25 and had a post-mortem examination performed  on July 27  with the result of viral studies coming out positive for Lassa fever on July 29.

“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,” Onanuga said.

The Special Adviser added that three health workers who developed symptoms had tested positive and on admission receiving treatment in an isolation ward in LUTH.

Onanuga said the 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 residents to maintain personal and environmental hygiene at all times as part of the precautionary measures to prevent the outbreak of the disease.

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

LUTH’s Chief Medical Director (CMD), Prof Chris Bode said: “Out of the 100 people on contact tracing, three persons who developed symptoms tested positive and have been on admission and receiving treatment in the isolation Ward in the hospital.”

Bode said there were no emergency cases of Lassa fever at LUTH but each of the two cases that were reported in the hospital were diagnosed and managed in other facilities before they were referred to LUTH.

He said the infected were being cared for by a corps of professional and volunteer doctors, nurses, pharmacists. microbiologists, epidemiologists, emotional care givers, cleaners and others round the clock.

Bode said: “There is no panic; the Lassa fever disease is being contained and all the stakeholders are working hard to make sure that it doesn’t spread.

“However, we should all be involved collectively and individually to stop further spread of this disease.

“I urge us to prevent our food items from being contaminated by rats and rat droppings and urine.

“Do not spread your food outside in the open; put food items in rat proof containers so that rats will not get access to the food.’’.

The chief medical director also said that personal and environment hygiene were critical measures against Lassa fever.

”The disease is being contained and efforts are ongoing to locate the sources of these occurrences and to effectively monitor those who have been exposed to any of these cases,’’ he said.

The President of ARD, LUTH, Dr Adebayo Sekunmade, said that the management of the hospital was managing the situation.

“Some resident doctors volunteered to treat those 100 people under surveillance but we want the management to handle the situation more carefully.”

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