Lassa fever: 57 persons place under surveillance in Rivers

…As Rivers resident dies of disease in Edo

From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt

The Rivers State Ministry of Health has confirmed the death of a resident of the state who died on Tuesday, January 22, 2020 in a hospital in Edo state after the patient was diagnosed of Lassa fever.

The Acting Permanent Secretary of the state Ministry of Health, Dr Chinwe Tonye Atata, who made the disclosure on Friday in Port Harcourt, while briefing journalists on the issue of Lassa Fever, also disclosed that based on the development 57 persons have been placed under survellance in the state.

Dr Atata who is also the Director, Planning, Research and Statistics of the Ministry, further disclosed that in the past few days there have reported cases of Lassa fever in the state, adding that some of the rumors were dismissed after investigation while two others still under serious investigation.

According to Dr Atata “In the last few days we’ve received four reports of suspected cases of Lassa fever in Rivers State, all these cases have received prompt and adequate attention. Two rumors have been investigated and discarded. Two samples have been collected and sent to the national reference laboratories for virology. All two cases are still suspected, unconfirmed and results are being awaited.

“However, the State was notified of a resident of Rivers State who was diagnosed in Edo State as a case of Lassa fever on January 22, 2020.

“Incidentally, the patient passed on at Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital January 22, 2020 investigations are ongoing at Edo State. Together with the management of the hospital, the family and NCDC are working assiduously to ensure Public Health Safety in the exposed clusters especially among health care personnel and the first responders.

‘Presently, fifty seven persons have so far been placed under surveillance. We are working in partnership with State, Federal Agencies and all stakeholders in the interest of public health security. There is therefore no cause for alarm as the situation as recorded is firmly under control”.

Dr Atata who advised the public to be more conscious and ensure a clean environment, said that the state government is determined to ensure that the state is free of the deadly diseases.

“In addition, we have in stock, sufficient quantities of commodities and drugs for therapeutic and preventive interventions in case of further challenges. The State Infectious Isolation and Treatment teams are all on response modes for swift intervention.

“In view of the prevailing upsurge of Lassa cases in the country, all health service centers are to maintain simple triage systems for all patients and uphold standard infection prevention principles required for service delivery. Use of gloves, face masks and sanitizers as well as infra-red temperature scans at health facilities should not be compromised for any suspected viral fever. Cautious management of laboratory samples is advised.

“The public is further advised to continue all necessary preventive measures in the circumstance. Prevention is better than cure. It is important to remind you that Lassa fever is an acute Viral Hemorrhagic Illness caused by the Lassa Virus. The reservoir of the virus is the multi-mammate rat and transmission could be from rodent-to-human and also by ingestion of food and materials contaminated by infected rodent excreta or urine. It could also be from human-to-human by direct contact with infected blood, tissues, secretions or excretions of infected humans.

“Consequently, the general public is enjoined to promote good “community hygiene” to prevent rodents from entering homes: Keep food and water covered to prevent contamination by rat. Store grain and other foodstuffs in rodent-proof containers. Dispose garbage far from the home and maintain clean households. Do not dry food items in open places. Do not touch rat with bare hands. The use of alcohol-based sanitizers is recommended.

“Avoid contact with blood and body fluids while caring for sick persons. Remember to wash your hands with water and soap. There is therefore, no cause for alarm as the State Ministry of Health is taking care of the situation” Dr Atata assured.

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