Lassa fever in Anambra, Delta: 59 contacts identified, monitored
Following the death of a 54-year-old to Lassa fever, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Abuja has identified and is presently monitoring 59 contacts in Anambra and Delta States.
National Coordinator and Chief Executive Officer of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, yesterday in a statement said: “On August 17, 2016, a case of Lassa fever was confirmed in a 54-year-old man who presented the day before at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH), Nnewi, Anambra State. He was referred from a private hospital in Asaba, Delta State, where he was receiving treatment until his condition deteriorated. On presentation at the Accident and Emergency of NAUTH, Lassa fever was suspected, blood samples collected and sent to the reference laboratory at Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Irrua, Edo State, where the diagnosis of Lassa fever was confirmed. He died within an hour of admission.
“The State Public Health authorities in Anambra and Delta States have commenced a public health response including epidemiological investigations, contact tracing and the prepositioning of drugs and supplies. As at 22 August 2016, 40 contacts have been identified in Delta State and 19 in Anambra State. All contacts are currently being monitored for symptoms of Lassa fever. The Delta and Anambra States Ministries of Health are coordinating the responses in their respective states, while the NCDC provides support and guidance to limit further spread.”
Lassa fever is an endemic disease in some states in Nigeria and thus its sporadic occurrence is not unexpected. It is in this light that Nigerians are advised to remain calm and supportive of public health authorities.
Ihekweazu further explained: “This case again illustrates the importance of following clinical protocols to confirm the cause of febrile illnesses, especially malaria, before treatment. Regarding the confirmed case of Lassa fever, we are working closely with the relevant State Government teams to limit further spread.
“We encourage health workers and health facilities across the country to maintain a high index of suspicion for Lassa fever and indeed other viral hemorrhagic fevers. We also encourage State governments and their Ministries of Health to sustain adequate detection and response capacity.”
He said the report in certain media outlets of three cases of Lassa fever in Anambra is false. “The Nigeria Center for Disease Control will continue to keep all our channels of communication open for information, verification and reporting on Lassa fever and other disease emergencies. The Centre’s 24/7 toll-free line can be reached via 0800-970000-10; and the twitter account handle @NCDCgov, and Facebook page @nigeriacdc are always available for inquiry and updates,” Ihekweazu said.