The residents of Ogun State are engrossed in fear over the re-emergence of the viral disease known as Lassa Hemorrhagic Fever (LHF) that has claimed two lives in the state capital, Abeokuta.
Exactly four months ago, the state Government has declared the state Lassa fever-free, but the viral disease has killed an assistant nursing officer, Adesuyi Abolanle and a mortuary attendant. However, the duo identity that died due to the disease could not be ascertained but Adesuyi was said to have attended to a suspected Lassa fever patient, while the morgue attendant handled the corpse of the patient.
Due to the death of the duo, the hospital management in the state requested a test to be conducted at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan where it was confirmed that the Lassa fever killed them last Friday and Sunday respectively. The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Babatunde Ipaye, has called on the management and members of staff of the Federal Medical Center, Idi Aba in Abeokuta not to panic over the disease. Allaying the fear of the staff, particularly the nurses, Ipaye has said that the situation does not call for unnecessary panic, adding that Lassa fever can only be transmitted by getting in contact with body fluid unlike that of Ebola which can be transmitted through air and some other means. He said the state ministry in collaboration with FMC would quickly set up an isolation center at the premises to attend to emergencies of such, while urging the nurses to always attend to all patients in the most hygienically acceptable manner. He added that they are going to immediately create an isolation center here at FMC to cater for unexpected cases and emergency on public health issues like Lassa fever to include others communicable diseases and have set officers out to confirm the root of the cases.
Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has confirmed the death of a health practitioner as a result of Lassa fever in the state. Adewole has announced in statement by the Head, Media and Public Relations of Ministry of Health, Mrs. Boade Akinola, and mandated the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to release a detailed brief as soon as it concludes it investigations.
He, however, called on members of the public to be calm, and seek care in health care facilities. Anybody with symptoms which include fever, headaches, vomiting, should report immediately at the nearest medical facility. “Healthcare professionals are reminded to test before treating for suspected malaria, and if the test is negative for malaria, to maintain a high index of suspicion for Lassa fever. Lassa fever is treatable when detected early. Adewole further directed all medical personnel to report case of suspected Lassa fever immediately to the state epidemiologist, who has been provided with the commodities, by NCDC to respond to cases.
He also enjoined health workers to take the necessary precaution in treating patients.
The minister further commiserated with the Nigerian Association Nurses and Midwives on the death of their member.