Corps Member, Doctors, Nurse Allegedly Die Of Lassa Fever In Kaduna Military Hospital

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*Kaduna Ministry of Health enhances surveillance

*Facility shutdown, prevent patients access to medical care

*Will remain closed until – Gov. Uba Sani

By; ALEX UANGBAOJE, & FUNMI ADERINTO, Kaduna

There’s palpable fears in Kaduna yesterday morning over an outbreak of disease suspected to be Viral Haemorrhagic Fever otherwise known as Lassa Fever at the Nigerian Army 44 Reference Hospital in Kaduna.

It was gathered that already over 10 people (though not confirmed) were affected as at yesterday morning, some are dead while others are in critical conditions as a result of the outbreak.

Though details of the affected persons were not disclosed yet, but information has it that a youth corps member, two medical doctors and a nurse are feared dead.

Some of those that have been confirmed dead include a Youth Corp member serving at the hospital and three staff of the hospital.

The hospital as at the time of this report was sealed and restrictions placed to control and prevent further spread of the disease.

Some people seen around the hospital gate trying to catch up some appointments and those seeking medical attention lamented that the hospital management was yet to address them on what was going on and couldn’t get them an alternative.

But in circular by the Nigerian Army Medical Corps, sent to all military hospitals and medical centres signed by the Ag, Corps Commander of the Nigerian Army Medical Corps (CCM), Brig Gen. S.O Okoigi, the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Dept of 44 NARHK witnessed the loss of three members of staff and a patient in the last 48 hours with some in critical condition.

According to the circular, “They are suspected to have died from Acute Viral Hemorrhagic Fever (VHF). This followed the management of a patient with febrile illness thought to have been the index patient with the disease 10 days ago, having presented with a febrile illness.

“The patient also died from the suspected disease condition. The common symptoms in those affected included fever, and nonspecific symptoms likened to malaria. However, the illness was complicated by abnormal liver function, acute kidney failure, encephalopathy, microangiopathy,
elevated D-Dimer among others.

“The A&E has been closed for thorough disinfection process and samples have been taken from suspected contacts and the deceased and sent to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)
laboratory in Kano for analysis. Similarly, the Kaduna State Epidemiologists have been invited to help in unraveling the aetiology of the febrile illness with a view
to curtailing the spread of the disease.

“This is in addition to strict disease
Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures that have been directed to be emplaced. Ribavirin injection (antiviral agent) has also been commenced on other suspected cases and those identified on contact tracing. 44 NARHK have also been directed to suspend accepting new cases from the general public in the interim while the situation is being contained.”

The hospital in a notification, explained that the Epidemiology Unit receive a report 20/02/2024 of outbreak of suspected Lassa fever and a team of surveillance officers from the LGA was deployed to investigate the report.

The team confirmed that the index case was a female Youth Copper who resides in the quarters of 44 Army Reference Hospital, noting that her illness started a week ago with symptoms of fever, head ache and later convulsion.

“In the process of convulsing, she bites her tongue and started bleeding. Three other patients presented with similar illnesses.
The hospital has recorded four mortalities from the similar illness.” They added.

They further explained that some of the actions taken so far includes “Six Lassa fever samples were collected and sent to Bayero University Kano for analysis and the result are being awaited. A total of 25 contacts have been line-listed for follow up. The close contacts were placed on prophylactic treatment.

“Ribavirin was supplied from the Ministry of Health to 44 Army Reference Hospital to support case management.

The hospital said why they await results of samples collected, and active case search within the hospital communities and the environs is already intensified. And that a follow up on the contact line-listed to intensify risk communication activities on prevention of Lassa fever is ongoing.

Meanwhile, the Kaduna State government has advised members of the public to maintain proper food and environmental hygiene as they remain hyper vigilant to immediately report any suspected cases of Lassa Fever to the nearest health facility.

The State Governor Senator Uba Sani, in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Muhammad Lawal Shehu, said the State Ministry of Health has been directed to enhance surveillance across the state in collaboration with local government heath departments.

“Additionally, all Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures have been instituted at the facility while it remains closed to the public until full containment has been achieved.” He added.

Governor Uba Sani on learning of this potentially dangerous outbreak directed the Kaduna State Ministry of Health on 20th February 2024, to immediately investigate and ascertain the situation at the health facility.

Consequently,a surveillance team was promptly mobilized to assess the situation and containment measures were initiated alongside the hospital management.

According to a statement from Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Kaduna State, Muhammad Lawal Shehu on 22nd February 2024 said Lassa Fever, generally infects victims with the following symptoms – fever, general body weakness and after a few days, headache, sore throat, muscle pain, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, cough, and abdominal pain may follow.

Currently, four deaths have been recorded all within the hospital premises while three other patients with similar symptoms are currently being managed.

The Kaduna State Ministry of Health and management of 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, are working assiduously to contain the situation as all those who came in contact with those infected have been identified and are closely being monitored while receiving urgent medical treatment.

Furthermore, samples have been carefully collected from contacts and sent for confirmation to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control laboratory and are closely being followed up.

Additionally, all Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures have been instituted at the facility while it remains closed to the public,until full containment has been achieved.

Members of the public are hereby advised to maintain proper food and environmental hygiene as they remain hyper vigilant to immediately report any suspected cases of Lassa Fever to the nearest health facility.
Kaduna State Ministry of Health has further been directed to enhance surveillance across the state in collaboration with local government heath departments.

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