By KIKELOMO SHONIBARE, Lagos
The Lagos State Government on Saturday called on residents to remain calm over the outbreak of Lassa fever, just as it assured that it is doing everything possible to curtail the spread of the virus in the State.
Addressing journalists at the Alausa Secretariat, on the first case of the disease recorded in the State, Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris said in line with international standards, 92 persons who had direct and indirect contact with the index case are currently being followed-up.
Idris confirmed that the index case, a 25-year-old male undergraduate of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State, was reported to have fallen ill after arriving in Lagos and was taken to Ahmmadiyyah Hospital, Ojokoro on January 9 with complaint of fever, sore throats and difficulty in swallowing.
He said the patient was subsequently placed on admission for six days and was thereafter referred by the said private hospital to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) on January 14, 2016 owing to the fact that the fever was persistent and his condition was not improving.
According to Idris, the patient was confirmed as a case of Lassa fever on January 15, at LUTH, and is currently being managed to the extent that his condition is now stable.
Idris added that 15 in-patients who were admitted alongside the index case as well as 25 health workers who attended to them have been placed on compulsory 21 days monitoring, and that the phone numbers and addresses of the persons in that category have also been collected for proper tracking.
Any of the persons in that category with temperature above 38.5, according to Idris, would be isolated so as to prevent the spread of the disease, while they have also been advised on the need to maintain little or no contact with others, at least for now.
The Commissioner said: “Though Lassa fever and Ebola Virus Disease belong to the same Viral Hemorrhagic fever group, Lassa fever is milder and can be treated and cured if detected early. Therefore, any persistent fever should be reported to the nearest public health facility.
“Residents are urged to watch out for the signs and symptoms of Lassa fever which typically occur with incubation period of 1-3 weeks after the patient comes into contact with the virus. Early symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, chills, diarrheas, nausea, vomiting, sore throat, backache, and joint pains.
“Late symptoms include bleeding from the eyes, ears and nose, bleeding from the mouth and rectum, eye swelling, swelling of the genitals and rashes all over the body that often contain blood. It could progress to coma, shock and death,” he said.
While stating that drugs and other materials have been prepositioned at the designated facilities across the State, Idris said isolation centres have equally been prepared to manage suspected and confirmed cases, adding that the State Government is fully prepared to manage the situation and as such people should not panic for whatever reasons.
On steps to be taken to prevent the spread of the disease, Idris urged residents to “avoid contact with rats, ensure proper collection and disposal of waste, cover all foods including left-overs and water properly, wash their hands properly before and after cooking of foods, block all rat hideouts and store food items in rodent-proof containers.”