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Lassa Fever Spreads To 10 States | The Precision

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21
•107 suspected cases already recorded this year
 
•NCDC CEO, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu
•NCDC CEO, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu

The
Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed the spread of
Lassa fever in 10 states across the country with 107 suspected cases and
16 deaths recorded so far in 2018.

The
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, in a
statement yesterday said following the increasing number of Lassa fever
cases reported, the Centre has activated its Emergency Operations Centre
(EOC) to coordinate the response to the outbreak on behalf of the
Ministry of Health.
Ihekweazu said the EOC has deployed Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) to the most affected states – Ebonyi, Ondo and Edo.
According
to him, the RRTs are supporting the states in response coordination,
contact tracing, case management, risk communication and strengthening
infection prevention and control practices.
He said the emergency supplies have also been sent to treatment centres in all affected states.
Ihekweazu
said: “Since the beginning of 2018, a total number of 107 suspected
Lassa fever cases have been recorded in 10 states-Edo, Ondo, Bauchi,
Nasarawa, Ebonyi, Anambra, Benue, Kogi, Imo and Lagos.
“As
at January 1, 2018, the total number of confirmed cases is 61, with 16
deaths recorded. Ten health care workers have been infected in four
states (Ebonyi – 7, Nasarawa – 1, Kogi – 1 and Benue – 1) with three
deaths in Ebonyi State.”

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Speaking
further, the NCDC boss said the Centre is collaborating with the World
Health Organisation (WHO), Ministry of Agriculture and Rural
Development, Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, African Field
Epidemiology Network, United States Centres for Disease Control,
University of Maryland Baltimore (UMB), Alliance for International
Medical Action (ALIMA) and other agencies in supporting the response in
the affected states.
He
noted that Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic illness,
transmitted to humans through contact with food or household items
contaminated by infected rodents.
Ihekweazu
explained that person-to-person transmission can also occur,
particularly in hospital environment in the absence of adequate
infection control measures.
According
to the NCDC boss, health care workers in health facilities are
particularly at risk of contracting the disease, especially where
infection prevention and control procedures are not strictly adhered to.
He however, stated that Lassa fever can be prevented through practicing
good personal hygiene and proper environmental sanitation.
Preventive
measures, according to him, “include storing grain and other foodstuffs
in rodent-proof containers, disposing of garbage far from the home,
maintaining clean households and other measures to discourage rodents
from entering homes.

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“Hand
washing should be practiced frequently. Health care workers are again
reminded that Lassa fever presents initially like any other disease
causing a febrile illness such as malaria, and are advised to practice
standard precautions at all times, maintaining a high index of
suspicion. Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) must be applied to all suspected
cases of malaria. When the RDT is negative, other causes of febrile
illness including Lassa fever should be considered.
“Accurate
diagnosis and prompt treatment increase the chances of survival. Family
members who are providing care for patients with Lassa fever should
take extra caution.”
In
addition, Ihekweazu encouraged the states to ensure safe and dignified
burial practices for patients who die from Lassa fever.
To
this end, he said the National Guidelines for Infection Prevention and
Control as well as Lassa fever case management has been developed,
disseminated to states and are available on the NCDC website for
download.
He
said NCDC remains committed to supporting all states’ public health
teams to prevent and respond to public health threats. (THISDAY)

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