LASSA FEVER: NO ESTABLISHED CASE IN OYO – HEALTH MINISTRY

…ADVISES RESIDENTS TO KILL RATS WITH CAUTION

Oyo State Ministry of Health has clarified that no single case of Lassa fever has been established in the state since last year when the first suspected case was subjected to clinical test at the federal ministry of health’s reference laboratory in Lagos.

This is contained in a statement by the ministry’s Acting Director of Public Health, Dr. Taiwo Ladipo, on Sunday, where he insisted that the three suspected cases reported and diagnosed at the University College Hospital (UCH) had no feature of the disease.

He, however, cautioned citizens of the state against consumption of rodents and to avoid contact with the blood, urine and faeces of rats when killing them as a preventive measure against Lassa fever.

Ladipo said, “Two suspected cases of Lassa fever were reported by the UCH, Ibadan in 2015. Both cases, though diagnosed at the institution, were not verified by the federal ministry of health reference laboratory in Lagos. Both cases had remarkable improvement and subsequently discharged home.

“The last case was reported by the UCH on December 18, 2015 and the ministry embarked on contact tracing of all potential contacts of the index case. Seventy-two (72) individuals from the referring hospital, UCH and the child’s community were observed for three weeks for any feature of the disease.

“At the end of this period, there were no features of the illness in all contacts. The index case has since been discharged from the UCH.”

As a safeguard measure, the director disclosed that an emergency preparedness team of stakeholders had met to prepare a response protocol in case of any outbreak of the disease in any part of the state.

He listed those in the team as the state’s ministries of health, information, environment, agriculture, State Hospitals’ Management Board, Red Cross and Red Crescent, UCH, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Teaching Hospital and State Emergency Management Authority.

With support from the federal ministry of health, he said that the state’s ministry of health had supplied ribavirin (the antiviral agent for Lassa fever treatment), as well as protective apparels to UCH to reduce contact between healthcare workers and potential cases.

In a similar vein, he said that sensitization of clinicians from the public and private sectors had been carried out to increase physicians’ index of suspected cases and the need for prompt referrals.

To prevent an outbreak of the disease in the state, the director harped on the need for residents to take personal hygiene serious, with emphasis on periodic hands washing.

Ladipo said, “Food items should preferably be kept in sealable containers to prevent contamination with urine or faeces of rodents.

“There is the need for proper personal and household management of refuse. Indiscriminate dumping of refuse should be avoided as these are potential breeding grounds for vermins.

“Eating of rodents should be avoided. Also important is to prevent contact with blood, urine and faeces of rats even when killing them. Clearing of bushes and refuse to reduce hiding and breeding spaces for rats is also important.”

He advised residents with nonspecific symptoms such as fever, facial swelling, muscle fatigue, conjunctivitis and mucosal bleeding, as well as symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach ache, constipation, dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing), among others to report immediately at the nearest health institution.

Ladipo also advised physicians managing such health institutions to promptly refer such cases to the UCH if they suspected any trace of Lassa fever.

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OYSG Communication Team

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