The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), yesterday, confirmed fresh cases of Lassa fever across the country, with no fewer than seven doctors and five nurses quarantined at the Federal Medical Centre, Yola, Adamawa State, with one dead in Kaduna and Kogi states.
Nasarawa State government has also confirmed an outbreak of Lassa fever in the state, while anxiety has gripped residents of Cross River State.
The NCDC said 195 cases have been confirmed and 29 deaths reported in 11 states as of January 24.
A source at the Yola hospital said a pregnant woman, who lost her foetus, was the primary contact for the spread of the virus.
“She was admitted at the labour ward, where the foetus was evacuated on Friday. After the evacuation, it was observed that the woman had fever and was bleeding. So, the medical team thought as much that it was a case of Lassa fever, then she was transferred to the isolation room and the blood samples were taken away for test, because, normally, they don’t do the test here at FMC, Yola. We waited for the test results, which came out yesterday, and showed that she was positive. But the patient died about two days to the release of the result.
“The only problem now is that many people were in contact with the patient. Seven doctors, five nurses and two sub staff had direct contact with her. Those that had direct contact with the patient are being quarantined for the incubation period of the disease. But these are just contact, they don’t have any case or anybody that is manifesting any symptom. Those who are in isolation are expected to be observed for at least 21 days,” said the source.
Speaking during a press conference in Abuja yesterday, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar, minister of environment, said, “The ministry is making efforts in collaboration with NCDC and other stakeholders in tackling the Lassa fever scourge, which is endemic and often associated with poor sanitary hygiene practices, with cases being recorded all year round.
“The virus is transmitted by rodents (rats), which can be found in our environment, including homes, motor parks, offices and places of worship. This contributes largely to the risk of spread that occurs in Nigeria and other countries with similar ecological factors.”
According to him, early symptoms are fever, headache, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and sore throat, among others.
“It is in very severe cases that the patient bleeds from body openings; maturity period of Lassa fever ranges from six to 21 days.”
Patient dies in Kaduna
The Kaduna State Ministry of Health, yesterday, confirmed the death of a 36-year-old male who tested positive to Lassa fever.
Commissioner for Health, Dr. Amina Baloni, at a press conference, said the patient died Sunday night and has been buried.
She said the state recorded a total of 11 suspected cases, out of which eight were returned, seven negative and one was confirmed positive and died; 38 persons are currently on follow-up contact.
She also dispelled the rumour that the Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital had been shut: “We didn’t close the hospital but tried to restrict unnecessary visitation to patients to prevent them from contacting other infectious diseases, not only Lassa fever. The practice of visiting and staying long in the hospital should be discouraged, especially with young children.”
2 quarantined in Osun
The Osun State government, yesterday, confirmed two cases of Lassa fever in the state.
Commissioner for Health, Dr. Rafiu Isamotu, made this known in Osogbo, at a news conference also attended by Dr. Olasiji Olamiju, Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Health.
Isamotu said the two patients were on admission at the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital (OAUTH), Ile-Ife, and its annex in Wesley Guild Hospital, Ilesa.
The commissioner said the state government was doing everything to curtail the two confirmed cases from spreading to other persons.
Isamotu said health officials had been put on the alert, while measures were in place to prevent the spread of the virus. He denied that one of the victims had run away from hospital.
1 dead, 3 hospitalised in Kogi
In Kogi, the scourge has claimed its first victim, while three others have been hospitalised.
Head of Clinical Services of the Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja, Dr. Bernard Ododo, said five suspected cases were reported in the last one week, out of which three were positive, while one prison that was positive died.
He advised residents to adopt all the necessary precautions to prevent the outbreak of the disease in the state.
“Treatment is more effective if detected early and commences immediately. Lassa fever is highly infectious and contagious, everyone must beware,” Ododo said.
Nasarawa confirms outbreak
Nasarwa State Commissioner for Health, Mr. Ahmed Yahaya, said a patient resident at Mararaba Gurku in Karu Local Government Area was diagnosed with the disease, adding that the case was confirmed by doctors at Garki General Hospital, Abuja.
According to him, a team of health personnel had been drafted to the area to monitor and possibly quarantine those who had contact with the patient to curtail its spread.
Yahaya said the state government had put in place the mechanism in secondary and tertiary health facilities to handle any case of outbreak.
“We are aware of the outbreak and have taken measures by deploying doctors and tools to ensure we curtail further spread of the diseases,” he said.
The commissioner advised residents to ensure good hygiene and keep rodents away from their food.
Dr. Hassan Ikrama, Chief Medical Director, Dalhatu Arab Specialist Hospital, Lafia, said the hospital was prepared to curtail the spread of the disease.
Anxiety in Cross River
There is fear among residents of Calabar, Cross River State, following reports of a case at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH), yesterday.
Investigations by Daily Sun showed that, three days ago, two patients were admitted separately into the accident and emergency unit of UCTH as they showed unusual symptoms of sore throat, general body weakness, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and muscle pains, which are associated with Lassa fever.
It was gathered that doctors collected samples from the patients and quickly transported them to Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Edo State, for analysis.
The development created fear among patients in the hospital, with some forced to make alternative arrangements for treatment elsewhere for fear of being infected.
CMD of UCTH, Prof. Ikpeme Ikpeme, told Daily Sun that “a patient was admitted, and, to be sure of what type of ailment, we took the sample and have taken it to the laboratory for proper analysis. So, we cannot confirm whether it is Lassa fever or not, until we get the results.”
Lagos biosafety laboratory begins operation
In a bid to tackle future disease outbreaks, the Lagos State biosafety laboratory has commenced operation, Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, has said.
Abayomi, in a statement, yesterday, said the facility has the capacity to process, identify and store samples of infectious diseases such as Ebola, Lassa fever, and coronavirus, among others.
Abayomi said the laboratory was built with support from the Canadian government to ensure effective management of infectious diseases.
“With this facility, which is the highest and most functional biosafety, biobanking laboratory in West Africa, Lagos is prepared to tackle and contain any possible outbreak of emerging infectious diseases, novel and highly infectious pathogens,” he said.
The commissioner noted that, prior to the commencement of the operation of the biobank, trainings were organised for the team of experts that would manage the facility.
Abayomi said that the trainings which started about two years ago, was part of the one-health and biosecurity strategy to build the biobank staff capacity in readiness for possible disease outbreak.