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ATBU-TH begins Lassa fever samples test

By NAN
17 September 2021   |   2:48 pm
Dr Jibrin Yusuf, Chief Medical Director (CMD), Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Teaching Hospital (ATBU-TH), Bauchi, says it has begun diagnostic test for Lassa fever in the North-East region.

Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Teaching Hospital (ATBU-TH), Bauchi

Dr Jibrin Yusuf, Chief Medical Director (CMD), Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Teaching Hospital (ATBU-TH), Bauchi, says it has begun diagnostic test for Lassa fever in the North-East region.

Yusuf, who confirmed the development in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Bauchi, said that samples of the disease were being tested at its Molecular Genetic Laboratory.

He said that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), gave the approval for such tests to be carried out by the hospital.

According to him, the laboratory is in partnership with ATBU, Bauchi, through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Federal Ministry of Finance and the NCDC.

The CMD said that the laboratory was the fourth of its kind in the country, adding that henceforth, all suspected cases from the region would be tested in the laboratory equipped with modern gadgets.

“ATBU-TH has an accredited Molecular lab for testing Lassa fever samples. In the past, our samples had to go to Edo or Abuja and spend two weeks there.

“With the approval of the NCDC, the teaching hospital will run samples of Lassa fever and will be out within 48 hours.

“This lab has the capacity to serve not only the North-East but all the northern states,” he said.

The laboratory, he said, could also test for the quantity of the HIV virus in the human body.

“Unlike in the past, we test for HIV, but not the quantity of the virus,” he said, adding that the hospital had experts to conduct research and manage patients.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines Lassa fever as an acute viral haemorrhagic illness of 2-21 days duration that occurs in West Africa.

According to the WHO fact sheet, the Lassa virus is transmitted to humans via contact with food or household items contaminated with rodent urine or faeces.

The health agency explained that person-to-person infections and laboratory transmission could also occur, particularly in hospitals lacking adequate infection prevention and control measures.

It said that Lassa fever was endemic in Benin, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria, but probably exists in other West African countries as well.

“The overall case-fatality rate is one per cent. Observed case-fatality rate among patients hospitalised with severe cases of Lassa fever is 15 per cent.

“Early supportive care with rehydration and symptomatic treatment improves survival.”