C’River State Government to Curtail Lassa Fever Spread

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Coco-Bassey Esu|27 February 2017 Following the confirmation of the occurrence a Lassa fever casualty in the state from a positive test result received from the Institute of Lassa Fever Research and Control, Imua, Edo State, the Honorable Commissioner for Health, Cross River State, Dr Inyang Asibong after Management Emergency Meeting has mandated the State Epidemiology team to begin contact tracing of all patient's contact for effective monitoring as emergency public health response have been set up in case of an Outbreak The ministry shall explored full emergency public health response, its surveillance and other intervention measures to include education, information and communication activities to stop the disease from spreading in the state. Cross River State Government through the State Ministry of Health is ready to collaborate with World Health Organization (WHO)  and other relevant agencies, partners, Professionals bodies and volunteers to curtail lasser fever spread in the state as adequate quantities of ribavirin, the specific antiviral drug for lassa fever will be sent to strategic health posts. Health workers in the state will be sensitized on universal precautions which is a practice, in medicine of avoiding contact with patient's bodily fluids since the symptoms of lassa fever are so varied and non – specific, clinical diagnosis is often difficult. Lassa fever or lassa hemorrhagic fever (LHF) is an acute viral hemorrhagic fever transmitted from rodents to humans.
Lassa fever was first discovered in 1969 in the town of lassa, in Borno state, Nigeria. Lassa fever is a member of the Arenaviridae virus family, similar to ebola. Lassa fever results in 300,000 to 500, 000 cases annually and causes about 5000 death per year. The primary animal host of the lassa virus is the Natal multimammate mouse (mastomys natalensis). Common routes of infection are – Contact between broken skin or mucus membrane and rat excreta.
-Ingestion of food contaminated with rat urine or faces.
-The use of rat as food.
-Person to person contact via sweat, blood faces, urine or other body fluids.
-People living in endemic area for lassa fever are at risk SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS – In 80% of cases, the disease is asymptomatic but in the remaining 20%, it  takes a complicated course. Non specific symptoms include fever, facial swelling and muscle fatigue as well as conjunctivitis and mucosal bleeding. Other symptoms arising from the affected organs are nausea, vomiting, (bloody) diarrhea (bloody) hypertension, meningitis, seizures among others. PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF LASSA FEVER – it relies on promoting good community hygiene to discourage rodents.
-Storing grain and other food stuffs in rodents proof containers.
-Disposing of garbage far from the home and maintaining clean house holds.
-Always be careful to avoid contact with blood and body fluids while caring for sick persons.
-Adhering to Universal precautions when caring for patients with suspected or confirmed lassa fever.
-Careful segregation of biologically hazardous waste.
-Health workers seeing a patient suspected to have lassa fever should immediately contact local and national experts for advice and to arrange for laboratory testing. NOTE – All suspected cases are to be reported to the State Ministry of Health to the following…
1- State Epidemiologist                                  –   08059282709.
2- State Director, Medical /Dental Services – 07030997484
3- State Acting Director of Public Health      – 08057422164. Coco-Bassey Esu
Writes from Calabar