From Joseph Obukata, Warri

Four cases of Lassa fever have been confirmed in Okpe, Oshimili North, Oshimili South and Ndokwa East local government councils of Delta State.

The State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Joseph Onojaeme, confirmed the cases yesterday, while addressing newsmen on the status of outbreak of Lassa fever in the State.

He, however, disclosed the state government has commence advocacy and awareness campaigns, especially to health workers and sensitization of residents to have a high index of suspicion when they see those cases.

According to him, as part of measures to control the spread of the pandemic, residents had been called upon to keep their environment clean always, and not expose food to rats and also ensure that rats do not breed in or around homes.

“In week 12, we have four confirmed cases so far recorded with a fatality rate of 50% though the general fatality rate for Lassa fever is 1-15%. So, we are doing everything humanly possible to ensure that we curtail the transmission from patient to health workers and from patients to relatives,” he said.

He mentioned the affected Local government Areas where the cases were recorded as Okpe, Oshimili North, Oshimili South and Ndokwa East, adding that Emergency Operation Centers (EOCs) have been set up across the State to monitor the situation and ensure residents are aware of what is going on.

Related News

Onojaeme, said that the State Government is working closely with Irrua Specialist Hospital, Edo State and has been able to achieve less than 24 hours of getting test results on Lassa fever, as against what was commonly obtainable which was within the range of 72 hours.

On her part, the State Epidemiologist, Dr. Mildred Igumbor said that by definition, one case of Lassa fever is an outbreak hence all hands should be on deck to ensure the elimination of the disease.

She explained that the State government had set up a multi-sectorial EOC comprising officials of the Ministry of Environment and Agriculture and Natural Resources, among others, where several partners and several subject matter experts sit and deliberate on how to tackle the disease and its spread.

According to the State Epidemiologist, Lassa fever is spread through contact with the fecal matter or urine of rats on foods hence we are sensitizing residents on the need for them to ensure rats don’t get in contact with their food so that they don’t contract the disease in the first place.

“To ensure prevention control measures are in place in our health facilities, health workers must have a very high index of suspicion. We are telling everyone that not all fever cases are malaria cases; so, if you are sick, please go to any nearest health facility or qualified medical personnel to seek medical attention. If you get there and the health personnel have a high level of suspicion, you will be tested and with the result received, such patients will be properly managed”.

Dr. Igumbor said that the Isolation Center at the Federal Medical Center Asaba, built by the Delta State Government, has the capacity for isolation and management of confirmed cases and, “if need be, for referrals they would be transferred to Irrua Specialist Hospital, Edo State”.