The Government of Cross River state under the dynamic leadership of Sen. Ben Ayade will continue to ensure that it’s citizens are safe from diseases and disease outbreaks by prioritizing health promotion and disease prevention.

Cross River State Ministry of Health (CRSMOH) intensifies emergency preparedness and response to the ongoing Lassa fever outbreak in the country.

There is no confirmed case of Lassa Fever in Cross River state! Members of the public have been asked not to panic but observe strict preventive measures to forestall Lassa Fever out break in the state.

In response to the increasing number of new cases of Lassa fever across the States in the country, especially cases reported in neighboring states; the CRSMOH has activated an emergency response team to coordinate response activities across the state through effective surveillance and instant notification of suspected cases. We have activated a state Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) headed by the Honorable commissioner for health Dr Betta Edu.

This emergency response/ surveillance team is drawn from collaborative efforts from the CRSMOH, University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH), CRSPHCDA, Federal Ministry of health,the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), WHO and UNICEF representatives, State ministry of Agriculture, Environment and SEMA other partners.

This collaboration is intended to ensure:
1. Synergised effort towards a coordinated rapid response to any Outbreak of Lassa Fever disease in the state.

2. Rapidly increase communications and community engagement activities to ensure that Cross Riverians are aware of the risks of Lassa fever and measures to protect themselves

3. Provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other consumables across all the health facilities in the state.

4. Activation and equipping of the state isolation center to handle any suspected case(s) in the state.

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5. Provision of Ribavirin and other supportive drugs and intravenous fluids for treatment of cases to prevent mortality.

6. Ensure the dialysis machines in the General Hospital Calabar and UCTH are functional to manage confirm cases where needed

7. Proper transport system to move samples to Lab at Abuja or IRUA, Edo State.

8. In case of any suspected case, Disease Survellance and notification Officer in that LGA must be reached, while Ambulance services provided to move client. In case of a suspected case kindly reach the state epidemiologist on 08038699957.

9. The training and/ or retraining of frontline health professionals for emergency response.

10. Intensification of health education and enlightenment in Efik, Ejagham, and other dialects in the state. Other technical aspect of coordination not stated here.

Lassa fever is a major public health challenge in West Africa, with Nigeria bearing the highest burden. It is an Acute Viral Hemorrhagic Fever (VHF) caused by Lassa virus.
The natural reservoir for the virus is the mastomy’s natalensis rodent (commonly known as multimammate rat). Epidemiological data shows that Lassa fever occurs throughout the year, but more cases are recorded during dry season, that is, from November through May.
Lassa fever is spread through:
1. Direct contact with urine, feaces, saliva or blood of infected rodents
2. Ingestion of food and drinks contaminated with urine, feaces, saliva or blood of infected rats.
3. Contact with objects, household items or surfaces contaminated with urine, feaces, saliva or blood of infected rat
4. Person-to-person transmission can also occur through contact with blood, urine, feaces, vomitus and other body fluids of infected persons particularly in hospital environments where infection prevention and control practices are not optimal.

The early stages of Lassa fever presents initially like other febrile illnesses such as malaria. Symptoms of the disease generally include: fever, headache, sore throat, general body weakness, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea , muscle pains, chest pains and in severe cases, unexplainable bleeding from the ears, eyes, nose, mouth, vagina, anus and other body orifices. It could also present as persistent bleeding from sites of intravenous cannulation.
The incubation period (time between an infection and appearance of symptom of the disease) is 3-21 days. Early diagnosis and treatment, increases the chances of survival. Inappropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, face mask, goggles etc., increases the risk of person-to-person transmission of Lassa fever.

To reduce the risk of Lassa fever, the following preventive measures can be carried out:
1. Practice of good personal hygiene by frequent hand washing with soap under running water and or use of hand sanitizers when appropriate.
2. Storage of foodstuff like rice, garri, beans, corn etc. in containers with tight fitting lids.
3. Avoidance of drying of foodstuff outside on the floor and by the road side where they can be exposed to contamination.
4. Proper covering of dustbin and disposal of refuse. Dump sites should be set up very far from homes.
5. Clearing the environment regularly.
6. Avoidance of bush burning which can lead to the displacement of rats from bushes to human dwelling.
7. Elimination of rats in homes and communities by setting rat traps and other means.
8. Disposal of all health care waste in a safe manner.
9. Practice of standard precautions at all times while handling patients and body fluids.

Any febrile illness that has not responded to 48hrs use of antimalarial or antibiotics should report to the nearest health facility for proper evaluation and treatment.
Health workers should maintain a high index of suspicion as Lassa fever can present like malaria fever and other febrile illnesses.
It is very important that health workers maintain standard precaution while managing patients.