Anambra State has recorded what appears to be its first Lassa Fever patient in the latest nationwide outbreak.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered that the patient is a student of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka (UNIZIK).
He was said to have been on admission at the University’s clinic for some days before she was referred to the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital, Amaku Awka.
The patient was diagnosed with the disease and further tests at the Irrua Specialist Hospital Awka confirmed that she indeed has Lassa fever .
Subsequently, she has been transferred to the Virology Centre in Ebonyi and handed over to the federal government for treatment.
A source in the hospital said the state government is now scrambling to contain the spread of the disease by embarking on aggressive contact tracing as there is suspicion that the patient may have contaminated students and siblings.
The chairman, Medical Advisory Committee (CMAC) of the hospital, Ifeanyichukwu Ezebialu, confirmed the incident in an internal memo to the staff of the hospital.
In the memo seen by this reporter, the CMAC said decontamination of the ward where the patient was nursed in the hospital had been done.
While commending the personnel who attended to the patient for their professional conduct and for observing universal precaution, Mr Ezebialu urged the staff to go about their usual duties as there is no cause for alarm.
“However all must always remember to be vigilant and apply universal precaution,” he added.
20 states affected so far
Lassa Fever has so far claimed 41 lives in the recent outbreak which has spread to 19 states according to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)
This makes Anambra the 20th state so far confirmed with at least one infected patient.
According to the NCDC between January 1 and 26, a total of 689 suspected cases with 258 confirmed cases were reported with 41 deaths.
These cases were reported from 19 states including Ondo, Edo, Ebonyi, Enugu, Kano, Borno, Nasarawa, Kogi, Rivers, Abia, Adamawa, Benue, Kaduna, Delta, Taraba, Plateau, Bauchi, Osun and Ogun.
Five health workers were among the dead: Kano (3), Taraba (1) and Borno (1)
Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus.
The natural carrier of the virus is the multimammate rat, but the disease is also spread through human to human transmission.
Lassa fever is transmitted from the excreta or urine of the multimammate rat. Anyone who is suspected of being in contact with a Lassa patient needs to be presented to the health facilities within a period of 21 days.
Lassa fever, at early stages, present symptoms similar to febrile illness such as malaria.
Symptoms of the disease generally include fever, headache, sore throat, general body weakness, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pains, chest pain, and in severe cases, unexplainable bleeding from ears, eyes, nose, mouth, vagina, anus and other body orifices. It could also present persistent bleeding from sites of intravenous cannulation.
Early diagnosis and treatment increase a patient’s chances of survival.
Author: James Eze