By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos
A report from Lagos State Ministry of Health shows that no fewer than 63 people who came in contact with the recently reported case of Lassa fever in the state have been identified and are being monitored by the Ministry of Health in line with international standards to break the cycle of transmission and spread of infectious diseases.
The state’s Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi idisclosed this at a press briefing to give an update on Lassa fever outbreak in Lagos State
He said that the successful identification of the 63 people who came in contact with the Lassa fever patient is attributable in part to the collaborative efforts between officials of the State Ministry of Health’s Epidemiology, Biosecurity and Global Health Directorate, Federal Ministry of Health, as well as local government disease surveillance officers through intensification of contact tracing efforts within the last 48 hours when the case was confirmed.
Said he, “We have one case of Lassa in Lagos, the patient is in isolation and receiving adequate care, 63 people that may have been in contact with the patient and who may have been infected by process of being in contact with him have been identified and are being monitored. If they develop any of the symptoms, we will pick them up early, test and isolate them so that we break the circle of transmission”
While giving further details on the Lassa fever patient, the Commissioner stated that the patient; a male student from Ebonyi State came to the Nigeria Law School, Lagos and presented at the clinic of the School when he fell ill.
Abayomi explained that the student was referred and managed to the Air force Clinic in Onikan from the Nigeria Law School clinic and later transferred to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) when he did not respond to the standard treatment for malaria and typhoid fever.
“On the 17th of February, we had a situation where a young student entered Lagos from Ebonyi State, he had been unwell before he came and treated in some form of fashion. His destination was Nigeria Law School where he was quickly attended to at the School’s clinic where he was treated for common malaria but wasn’t getting better, he was referred to the Nigeria Airforce clinic at Onikan where he was managed further, there was still no improvement and then he was referred to Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) where we started to suspected that based on his point of origin and his non response to standard treatment for malaria or typhoid that we may be dealing with Lassa fever”.
“In our interrogation, there was no obvious contact with anybody prior to his arrival in Lagos but the test was confirmed as positive on the 17th of this month and he was then immediately transferred to the isolation containment facility within LUTH where he remains today. He is on active treatment there and from the preliminary information available to us, the treatment is on-going satisfactorily”, the Commissioner stated.
Abayomi averred that that the prevention and control of the Lassa fever disease remains a shared responsibility of all citizens through observance of the highest possible standards of personal and community hygiene as well as environmental sanitation.
The urged residents to store house-hold refuse in sanitary refuse bags or dust bins with tight-fitting covers to avoid infestation by rats and rodents; dispose refuse properly and store food items in rodent-proof containers.
While outlining strategies put in place by the State government to control the disease, the Commissioner explained that the Lagos State is maintaining relevant surveillance activities through its disease surveillance officers at local government level to prevent the spread of the disease in Lagos.
“Isolation wards have been prepared to manage suspected and confirmed cases, drugs and other materials have also been prepositioned at designated facilities while health workers have been placed on red alert and community sensitization activities intensified”, Abayomi noted.
The Commissioner advised health workers, both in the public and private hospitals in the State to ensure that they observe universal safety precautions and comply with infection prevention and control measures when dealing with patients, stressing that appropriate personal protective equipment like hand gloves, facemasks, goggles and overalls must be worn when attending to cases.
“Hands must be washed often with soap and running water or application of hand sanitizers after each contact with patients or contaminated materials and instruments must be autoclaved. Also hospital mattresses must be covered with plastic sheets to prevent contamination”, Abayomi added.
He stated that a case of Lassa Fever should be suspected in any person with persistent high fever not responding to standard treatment for malaria and typhoid fever or bleeding from body surface.
The Commissioner urged health workers as well as citizens to report suspected case or cases of the disease to the nearest government approved health facility, the Ministry of Health or call the emergency operation centre lines – 08023169485, 08033565529 and 08052817243.