•Says no cause for alarm
By Azoma Chikwe
Lagos State Government has confirmed another three cases of lassa fever under its care, saying the patients are responding to treatment. The three cases tested positive to the contagious fever after five suspected cases were placed on 21 days surveillance.
However, Director, Lagos State Disease Control, Dr. Eniola Erinosho said there is no need for panic as the state government was working in collaboration with the Lagos University Teaching Hospital(LUTH), Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) and other relevant health institutions to contain the outbreak.
He said lassa fever is less dangerous than Ebola Virus Disease because most people who tested positive to lassa fever, when detected early and treated, get well. “We have the drugs, the experts and LUTH is co-operating. We have alerted all facilities in LASUTH, Mainland hospital etc to join in the fight against the disease. Presently, we are monitoring two cases at Mainland hospital. The Lagos State Government has given full support to the state Ministry of Health. Basically, I would say we are in full control of the situation, there is no cause for alarm.”
He advised that prevention of lassa fever relies on promoting good “community hygiene” to discourage rodents from entering homes. Effective measures include storing grain and other foodstuffs in rodent-proof containers, disposing of garbage far from the home, maintaining cleanliness.
In healthcare settings, prevention is by standard precautions, where all blood and body fluids are considered potentially infectious. Standard precautions are applied to all patients at all times and in all health care settings. These include hand hygiene, use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), waste disposal, cleanliness and disinfection of medical equipment and environment, safe injection practices.
“Deratisation was carried out by the Lagos State government in our markets and we killed 7,000 rats. But, we try to prevent rats from coming into our markets. What the rats are after are left-over foods, we should also prevent rats from coming near our foods, that will help,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Chief Medical Director of LUTH, Prof. Chris Bode disclosed that the doctor infected by lassa fever while treating a patient was responding to treatment in the isolation ward. “Once you diagnose lassa fever on time and start care on time, you can be sure the patient will respond to treatment. She is doing fine and the family is grateful for timely intervention.”
On lassa fever diagnosis he said: “Lassa virus infections can only be diagnosed in a virology laboratory using the following tests: The reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay, testing for IgM, antigen detection tests and virus isolation by cell culture.”