Two patients have died as a result of Lassa Fever at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) in the past one week.
A resident doctor in the hospital is currently infected with the disease, while 100 hospital workers who were exposed to the affected patients have been placed under watch.
This was contained in a statement signed by.Chris Bode, Chief Medical Director of LUTH.
Bode said each of the deceased patients were brought to the hospital “very late and died in spite of efforts to salvage them”.
“The first was a 32-year-old pregnant lady with bleeding disorder who died after a stillbirth. Post-mortem examination had been conducted before her Lassa Fever status was eventually suspected and confirmed,” Bode said.
“No less than 100 different hospital workers exposed to this index case are currently being monitored. A resident doctor from the Department of Anatomic and Molecular Pathology who took part in the autopsy was later confirmed with the disease and is currently on admission and responding well to treatment at the Isolation Ward of LUTH.”
Bode visited the isolation centre on Monday in company of his top management staff, and spoke with the doctor and staff to boost morale and assure them of the hospital’s full support.
He enjoined all LUTH workers to maintain a heightened level of alert in the wake of this new outbreak, and observe universal precautions in handling all suspected cases of this viral hemorrhagic fever.
The outbreak of Lasser Fever in Lagos State is following reports of an outbreak of diarrhea, which killed some students of the Queen’s College, Lagos.
LUTH worked closely with officials of the Lagos State Ministry of Health to contain the outbreak at the time
“Both the Lagos State Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Health have responded swiftly to contain this present Lassa fever outbreak by mobilising human and material resources to trace the sources and extent of the disease, follow up on potential contacts, identify early and test suspected cases,” he added.
“There are adequate materials for containment of the disease while drugs have been made available to treat anyone confirmed with the disease.
“The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in Nigeria has also been contacted. Two other suspected cases from Lagos state are also presently admitted and quarantined while undergoing confirmatory laboratory tests.”
Lassa fever is an acute febrile illness, caused by the Lassa fever virus mostly transmitted by rats. The disease, which has an incubation period of six to 21 days, was first identified in Nigeria in 1969.
The virus is shed in the urine and droppings of the rats hence can be transmitted through direct contact, touching objects or eating food contaminated with these materials or through cuts or sores.
Transmission also occurs in health facilities where infection prevention and control practices are not observed. Person to person transmission also occurs most especially when a person comes in contact with the virus in the blood, tissue, secretions or excrements of an infected individual.
Symptoms of the disease include fever, general weakness, muscle and joint pains, prostration and malaise and after some days, headache, sore throat, muscle pain, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, cough, and abdominal pain may follow.
In severe cases facial swelling, fluid in the lung cavity, bleeding from the mouth, nose, vagina or gastrointestinal tract and low blood pressure may develop.
Prevention of Lassa fever mainly involves good community and personal hygiene to discourage rodents from entering homes. Other effective measures include storing grain and other foodstuffs in rodent-proof containers, disposing of garbage far from the home, maintaining clean households.
In case of any suspected case of Lassa fever, the response team in LUTH can be notified on 08058019466, 08058744780, 07035521015 and 08023299445.