Enugu issues red alert over Lassa fever outbreak in Ebonyi
Enugu State government has urged residents to be vigilant, following the fresh outbreak of Lassa fever in Ebonyi State.The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Fintan Ekochin, made the appeal yesterday.He said although the disease has not been reported in the state, there were concerns about those who travel to and from Ebonyi.
He said: “Lassa fever has been a challenge in Ebonyi State as the people are prone to having issues that may lead to deaths. “Our concern is about those commuters, if they contact the disease, how do we select them from the general public, quarantine and treat them?”He said presently, since the disease is not endemic among the Enugu population, the risk remains lower.
Ekochin disclosed that the state has an internationally approved isolation ward, which could handle highly infectious diseases. So, we are ready to receive such patients and treat them.
“The facility was one of the biggest challenges that the ministry faced in the last quarter of 2017, when monkey pox disease broke out.“We had three suspected cases at that time and the state government funded the ministry of health to set up the isolation ward. It provided the opportunity of isolating patients from relations and medical workers.He added that what happened in Ebonyi was that the doctors and nurses who treated the patients got infected and died.
The commissioner appealed to the residents to maintain a high level of hygiene, adding that food items must not be exposed to rodents, cockroaches and flies.He explained that the risk of contacting the disease could be reduced if the environment is kept clean and rodent-proof containers are used to store foods.
Ekochin disclosed that an emergency preparedness team had met to discuss the implications of the breakout in Ebonyi.The team was drawn from the department of public health in the ministry.He said the proactive measures became necessary to avert a possible spread of the disease into the state.
“The meeting was special because we expanded it to include faith-based and private hospitals. The meeting was aimed at discussing the way forward, especially as Ebonyi is 45 minutes drive from Enugu. He recalled that the state chapter of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) had recently set up a 22-member committee to sensitise residents on how to prevent a spread of the disease.
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