LASSA FEVER UPDATE: Gombe State Records Five Cases

The outbreak of deadly Lassa fever seems to be taggering and new cases keep coming up. The need to help one another and stop the disease from spreading should be our priority.

According to Punch, Gombe State Epidemiologist, Dr. Bile Nuhu, has said the state recorded seven Lassa fever cases with one death between January and July.

Dr. Nuhu, in an interview with the news outlet, expressed the resolve of the state to tackle epidemic with its recent surveillance and response mechanism in partnership with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control. He said:

“We look at Lassa fever in seasons from November to April, but for this year we have had suspected cases. Whenever we have such cases, we take samples to laboratories either in Lagos, Kaduna or Abuja for investigation.

Since January 2019 we have had 39 suspected cases of Lassa fever; we have done the verification on all, out of which we have five confirmed cases. Gombe State has two isolation centres, four patients were treated successfully and discharged, and unfortunately we lost one because he came in very late.”

He added that the NCDC was on top of its game in surveillance and response by isolating suspected patients. He added:

“Once there is early suspicion, you isolate the patient until the result comes back, the state government has been up and doing by ensuring we don’t run out of Ribavirin, which is the sole drug for the treatment of Lassa fever.

The state ministry of health has ensured that in all the cases, we don’t have a case of secondary infection, we have never recorded that in Gombe State.”

READ ALSO: LASSA FEVER: Medical & Health Workers Union Warns Against Consuming Soaked Garri

Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness of 2-21 days duration that occurs in West Africa. The Lassa virus is transmitted to humans via contact with food or household items contaminated with rodent urine or faeces.

Signs and symptoms of Lassa Fever

This typically occur 1-3 weeks after the patient comes into contact with the virus. For the majority of Lassa fever virus infections (approximately 80%), symptoms are mild and are undiagnosed.

Mild symptoms include: slight fever, general malaise and weakness, and headache.

Severe symptoms include: hemorrhaging (in gums, eyes, or nose, as examples), respiratory distress, repeated vomiting, facial swelling, pain in the chest, back, and abdomen, and shock.

Neurological problems have also been described, including hearing loss, tremors, and encephalitis. Death may occur within two weeks after symptom onset due to multi-organ failure.

Prevention

1. Primary transmission of the Lassa virus from its host to humans can be prevented by avoiding contact with Mastomys rodents, especially in the geographic regions where outbreaks occur.

2. Putting food away in rodent-proof containers and keeping the home clean help to discourage rodents from entering homes.

3. Do not eat these rodents as food.

4. Setting traps in and around homes can help reduce rodent populations.

5. Educating people who live in high-risk areas, so be sure to share this.

6. Practise good personal hygiene. Wash hands with soap and water and use sanitisers.

7. Family members should always be careful to avoid contact with blood and body fluids while caring for sick persons.

8. Disposing of garbage far from the home as this attracts rats.

9.  Maintaining a very clean household.

10. Avoiding contact with an infected person.

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