Lagos State is closely monitoring 63 persons who came in contact with the first identified case of Lassa Fever outbreak to ensure it breaks the circle of transmission.
Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi at a news briefing to update on the Lassa Fever outbreak said since the index case was identified and confirmed as a student who came in to Lagos from Ebonyi State on February 7, the ministry’s surveillance, Epidemiology, Biosecurity and Global Health Directorate have been able to intensify contact tracing of 63 persons.
All the persons he assured are being monitored by the Ministry of Health in line with international standards to break the cycle of transmission and spread of the infectious diseases, Abayomi has said.
According to the commissioner,“We have one case of Lassa in Lagos, the patient is in isolation and receiving adequate care, 63 people that may have been in contact with the patient and who may have been infected by process of being in contact with him have been identified and are being monitored. If they develop any of the symptoms, we will pick them up early, test and isolate them so that we break the circle of transmission”
The said student, a male was said to have arrived Lagos and proceeded to the Law School but took ill and presented himself at the clinic of the School.
Abayomi explained that the student was however referred and managed at the Air force Clinic in Onikan from The Nigeria Law School Clinic but had to be transferred to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) when he did not respond to the standard treatment for malaria and typhoid fever.
“On the 17th of February, we had a situation where a young student entered Lagos from Ebonyi State, he had been unwell before he came and treated in some form of fashion. His destination was Nigeria Law School where he was quickly attended to at the School’s clinic where he was treated for common malaria but wasn’t getting better, he was referred to the Nigeria Airforce clinic at Onikan where he was managed further, there was still no improvement and then he was referred to Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) where we started to suspect that based on his point of origin and his non-response to standard treatment for malaria or typhoid that we may be dealing with Lassa fever.
“In our interrogation, there was no obvious contact with anybody prior to his arrival in Lagos but the test was confirmed as positive on the 17th of this month and he was then immediately transferred to the isolation containment facility within LUTH where he remains today. He is on active treatment there and from the preliminary information available to us, the treatment is ongoing satisfactorily”, the Commissioner has assured.
He however pleaded that the prevention and control of the Lassa fever outbreak remains a shared responsibility of all citizens through observance of the highest possible standards of personal and community hygiene as well as environmental sanitation.
He urged residents to store household refuse in sanitary refuse bags or dust bins with tight-fitting covers to avoid infestation by rats and rodents; dispose refuse properly and store food items in rodent-proof containers.
Abayomi reaffirmed that government has put in place strategies to control Lassa Fever outbreak through maintaining relevant surveillance activities by its surveillance officers at local government level to prevent the spread of the disease.
He added that “Isolation wards have been prepared to manage suspected and confirmed cases, drugs and other materials have also been prepositioned at designated facilities while health workers have been placed on red alert and community sensitization activities intensified”, Abayomi noted.
“Hands must be washed often with soap and running water or application of hand sanitizers after each contact with patients or contaminated materials and instruments must be autoclaved. Also hospital mattresses must be covered with plastic sheets to prevent contamination”, he added.
The Health Commissioner further advised that a case of Lassa Fever should be suspected in any person with persistent high fever not responding to standard treatment for malaria and typhoid fever or bleeding from body surface.
He urged health workers as well as citizens to report suspected case or cases of the disease to the nearest government approved health facility, the Ministry of Health or call the emergency operation centre lines – 08023169485, 08033565529 and 08052817243.