Enugu moves to prevent Lassa fever outbreak

Prof Isaac Adewole, Minister of Health
Prof Isaac Adewole, Minister of Health

A public health official in Enugu State, Dr Okechukwu Ossai, says the government is taking all necessary measures to prevent the outbreak of Lassa fever in the state.

Ossai, who is the Director of Public Health in the State Ministry of Health, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Enugu.

The state government’s commitment is coming just after the Federal Government on Friday confirmed the death of 40 people out of the 86 reported cases of Lassa fever outbreak in 10 states of the federation

The states include are Bauchi, Nasarawa, Niger, Taraba, Kano, Rivers, Edo, Plateau, Gombe, and Oyo.

The official said that a medical team constituted by the state government was holding regular meeting with Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi since the disease broke out.

According to him, the surveillance and monitoring team along with doctors in the local government areas of the state are educating the people on how to identify a case of Lassa fever as well as where and who to report the case to.

“We have taken all measures to make sure that Lassa fever doesn’t come into Enugu State.

“Immediately we started hearing about rumours of Lassa fever, the governor invited key stakeholders and then asked us to put things in place.

“And then, he asked us some pertinent questions – what and what we have put in place to make sure that in case of any eventuality we are not caught napping.

“So, we enumerated all the things we have done.

“We have a stock of ribavirin. He (the governor) said that we should go and check the life (span and efficacy) of the ribavirin. And we have checked (and it’s okay).

“And then, we have pre-positioned drugs.

“We have already called all our disease surveillance officers in all the LGAs and we have trained them on how to identify cases of Lassa (fever).

“We have equally trained all the doctors on case definition of Lassa fever.’’

The director, however, advised members of the public to report any case of strange fever to a health facility nearest to them, saying: “Do not engage on self-medication for any reason.’’

Lassa fever or Lassa hemorrhagic fever (LHF) is an acute viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus.

It is zoonotic because it spreads to humans from rodents, specifically mice accessing grain stores in residences.

The virus is probably transmitted by contact with the faeces or urine of the animals.

The disease results in 300,000 to 500,000 cases annually and causes about 5,000 deaths each year. (NAN)

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