From ROSE EJEMBI, Makurdi
No fewer than three persons including a medical doctor have been confirmed dead between 24 and 48 hours interval in Benue State from an ailment suspected to be Lassa fever. Daily Sun gathered that the deceased were among four who were referred to the Benue State University Teaching Hospital (BSUTH) after they presented similar symptoms. Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the hospital, Malu Orkuga, who spoke with newsmen in his office yesterday said investigation showed that one of the patients who died was treated by the deceased medical doctor. He said though it was too early to categorically say that the patients died of Lassa fever, a specimen had already been sent to Edo State to ascertain the real cause of their death.
The CMD listed some of the symptoms they presented to include fever, kidney failure, difficulty in blood clotting as well as convulsion, stressing, however, that the symptoms could also occur in many other diseases that were referred to the BSUTH. “These symptoms can occur in many other diseases so they don’t necessarily mean it is Lassa fever. We can only confirm it with the blood tests, which are not available at present. We have taken specimen to the only diagnostic centre we know in Edo State. It is when we have the result that we will be able to know whether this was actually Lassa fever or not.”
Meanwhile, he said the hospital was treating the patients as if it was Lassa fever or any other infection that could rapidly spread from person to person. Orkuga allayed the fears of members of the public that they could easily contact the infection, saying it was only those who were taking care of the infected people that could contact the infection. According to him, the doctors and nurses and other staffers of the hospital as well as visitors and other patients were not at risk of contacting the deadly infections. He, however, said the hospital had taken precaution by isolating others, who were suspected to have the same ailment while it had also contacted the epidemiology unit of the Benue State Ministry of Health, which, he said, had responded swiftly by providing drugs.