According to reports, confirmed cases of Lassa fever in Delta State Nigeria has spread panic across the country. It has been gathered that the hemorrhagic fever caused the death of one doctor and left 32 people quarantined in Asaba, Delta State.
Of all the people placed under quarantine, 11 are members of the deceased doctor’s family and 18 individuals at the hospital where he was admitted. Also under surveillance are three people who reportedly came in contact with the deceased.
According to Sahara Reporters, the medical practitioner was first taken to a private health care center before being moved to NAUTH (Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital), at Nnewi Anambra State, Nigeria.
An Unnamed doctor told Sahara Reporters that the condition of the patient had deteriorated significantly leading to his death three hours after reaching NAUTH. He also said that the blood sample taken from the deceased at the Institute For Lassa Fever confirmed that he died from complications caused by the Lassa virus.
The late doctor was from Anambra State and owned a private hospital in Asaba. His hospital and the other health center where he was treated have been closed temporarily and quarantined.
The Commissioner of Health in Delta State, Mr. Nicholas Azinge, confirmed the return of the Lassa virus in a statement. He also calmed fears concerning the doctor’s widow after confirming that tests done on her blood have come back negative for the virus.
According to the health commissioner, two health surveillance officers in the Oshimili South and North areas have initiated moves to contain the spread of the disease. They are doing this with other health officials and have been monitoring the condition of those placed under quarantine.
He assured the public in his statement that the sensitization of health workers has begun in a bid to help them have a high suspicion index and be able to take the appropriate measures when managing infectious health conditions.
Azinge added that prevention supplies have arrived at the high-risk outbreak areas in the region including PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), non-contact thermometers and some other health related equipment. These items have been shared among the Disease Surveillance Officers in the 25 Local Government Areas in the State.
He also said that Ribavirin, the drug approved to treat the condition had been procured swiftly, while the Delta State branch of the Nigerian Medical Association and the Federal Ministry of Health are aware of the situation and are working in collaboration with the Delta State Ministry of Health to handle the situation.
This news comes just days after it was reported that a fresh Lassa fever outbreak hit Anambra State in which 3 people lost their lives. The condition first hit the Nation in 2015 and was first combated with the Ribavirin drug only to rear its ugly head in a year that has seen the country fall from been the largest growing economy in Africa to a struggling nation.
The Lassa virus is spread through rodent droppings. Authorities have warned members of the public against consuming raw garri, except if it has been protected from rodents especially rats. Health workers in the country have been taught to exercise high standards when handling Lassa fever cases in a bid to combat the spread of the virus.
Recap on Lassa Fever
People usually become contaminated with the Lassa virus from exposure to urine or faeces of infected Mastomys rodents. Lassa virus can also be spread between people through direct contact with the blood, urine, faeces, or bodily secretions of someone infected with Lassa fever. There’s no evidence supporting airborne distribution between people. Person to person transmission happens in both neighborhood and healthcare situations, where the virus might be spread by contaminated medical products, like reused needles.
Symptoms of Lassa Fever
The incubation period of Lassa runs from 2–21 days. The beginning is generally slow, beginning with a high-temperature, weakness, and malaise. After a day or two, headache, sore throat, muscle soreness, chest pain, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, and stomach discomfort may follow. In serious cases, facial swelling and hemorrhaging in the mouth, nostril, vagina or reduced blood pressure might follow.
Protein might be seen in the person’s urine. Seizures, shock, convulsions, confusion, tremor, and coma may be observed in the later phases. Hearing loss occurs in 25% of individuals who survive the disease.
Death typically occurs within two weeks of lethal cases. The disease is particularly acute for pregnant women in their third trimester, with maternal and fetal death happening in over 80% of the time.