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Lagos state confirms first Lassa fever outbreak

Lagos State has confirmed its first case of Lassa fever this year, and has appealed to residents to be calm and not panic, as the patient is currently in isolation at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital.

Akin Abayomi, commissioner of health has said that efforts are already in place to ensure the disease is not spread but contained within the  shortest possible time.

“The Lagos State Ministry of Health is collaborating with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) through Epidemiology, Biosecurity and Global Health Directorate “to carry out ‘contact tracing’ to determine those who may have been infected in line with international standards while we beef up our other surveillance strategies,” he assured.

So far, this year the death toll from the viral haemorrhagic illness has risen to 70 while the confirmed number of cases “significantly” increased across 26 states in Nigeria.

According to the Lassa Fever weekly situation report released by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), a total of 109 cases were confirmed out of 482 suspected cases from 3rd to 9th environmental sanitation. February (week 06). This brings the total number of confirmed cases to 472 in 2020.

Abayomi advised that the prevention and control of the disease remained a shared responsibility of all citizens through the observance of the highest possible standards of personal and community hygiene as well as environmental sanitation.

The commissioner stressed that residents should store house-hold refuse in sanitary refuse bags or dust bins with tight-fitting covers to avoid infestation by rats and rodents; dispose refuse properly at designated dump sites and not into the drainage system and store food items in rodent-proof containers.

“Members of the public are further advised to avoid contact with rats, to always cover their food and water properly, cook all their food thoroughly, as well as block all holes in the septic tanks and holes through which rats can enter the house and clear rat hideouts within the premises.

“Isolation wards have been prepared to manage suspected and confirmed cases, drugs and other materials have also been prepositioned at designated facilities while health workers have been placed on red alert and community sensitisation activities intensified, ” Abayomi said.

The Commissioner also pleaded with medical and health workers to always maintain high standards of universal safety precautions as well as comply with infection prevention and control measures when dealing with all patients.

The government, he assured, has provided sufficient protective wears like hand gloves, face masks, goggles which must be worn at all times when treating suspected cases of infectious diseases like Lassa Fever.

“Hands must be washed often with soap & running water or application of hand sanitizers after each contact with patients or contaminated materials and instruments must be autoclaved. Also hospital mattresses must be covered with plastic sheets to prevent contamination”, he added

Abayomi advised all health workers to immediately suspect a case of Lassa Fever in any person with persistent high fever not responding to standard treatment for malaria and typhoid fever or bleeding from body surface.

All suspicious cases of infectious diseases such as Lassa Fever are advised to be reported by citizens immediately by reaching out to the nearest government-approved health facility, the Ministry of Health or call the emergency operation centre lines – 08023169485, 08033565529 and 0805281724

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