Lassa fever: Lagos confirms 4 cases, 537 contacts

Eniola Ajayi,Lagos

Four persons have so far tested positive to Lassa fever infection in Lagos State. The Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris who confirmed this also revealed that 537 contacts have so far been listed, out of which 534 were currently under observation.

Dr Idris, in a press briefing said government was doing everything possible to defeat the deadly Lassa fever like it did during the outbreak of Ebola virus, just as it urged residents of the state to be on red alert by embracing personal and environmental hygiene.

“So far, the state has recorded 20 suspected cases, out of which 14 tested negative, while 4 cases were confirmed positive, three results were still being awaited, while 537 contacts have so far been listed, out of which 534 were currently being monitored,” the commissioner highlighted.

Red Alert

He also advised residents to block all holes in their homes through which rats could gain entrance, and also refrain from eating rat’s meat as well as any food already contaminated with urine, saliva and faeces of infected rat.

The Commissioner also urged residents to maintain basic environmental sanitation, including proper disposal of refuse and avoiding open defecation. He further asked the residents to embrace regular hand washing with soap and water, and maintain high level of personal hygiene as well as adequate nutrition.

While advocating early report of suspected cases, the Commissioner also urged health workers to adhere strictly to infection control measures, while mortuary personnel must wear elbow-length gloves, face mask, gowns and other personal protective equipment while attending to remains of dead patients.

Idris, who addressed the media alongside the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Steve Ayorinde and the Special Adviser to the Governor on Primary Healthcare, Dr Olufemi Onanuga, disclosed that the last confirmed case was a 27-year-old lady who travelled to Edo state on December 24, 2015 and returned to Lagos on January 2, 2016.

The Commissioner said the lady, who reportedly travelled for burial of her relative, became ill on January 14, 2016 and received care in one private hospital and three churches before she was referred on January 23, 2016 to Ijede General Hospital with fever, vomiting, diarrhea and body weakness.

He added that the patient eventually died within few hours of admission, while the case was confirmed as Lassa fever on January 26, 2016.

“The remains of the diseased has been kept in the morgue in leak proof body bag, while she would be buried after due consultation with her family.
Out of that case alone, 90 persons have so far been listed as contacts as at January 26, 2016, while contact tracing is currently on-going,”
according to Dr Idris.

Means of contact

Giving information on the disease, Idris said: “Members of the public are being sensitized to note that Lassa fever can be contacted through: ingestion of foods and drinks contaminated by the saliva, urine and faeces of infected rats; catching and preparing infected rats as food; inhaling tiny particles in the air contaminated with infected rat urine or droppings, and direct contact with a sick person’s blood or body fluids, through mucous membranes like eyes, nose or mouth.”

Dr Idris then gave assurance that Lagos State would continue to provide quality, affordable and accessible healthcare to the people towards achieving universal healthcare to all, the Commissioner assured that the government would overcome Lassa fever just as it defeated Ebola virus disease.