Lassa fever: 100 LUTH staff on sur­veil­lance af­ter 2 deaths

Daily Trust - - NEWS - By Judd-Leonard Okafor

Two pa­tients be­ing treated for Lassa fever at La­gos Univer­sity Teach­ing Hos­pi­tal have died in one week, only days af­ter they were hos­pi­tal­ized.

Both pa­tients are said to have been hos­pi­tal­ized af­ter the in­fec­tion had gone on for too long.

Of­fi­cials have put un­der sur­veil­lance at least 100 hos­pi­tal work­ers who may have had con­tact with the pa­tients.

The first of the pa­tients is a 32-year-old preg­nant woman who had bleed­ing prob­lems af­ter hav­ing a still­birth. A post-mortem exam con­firmed her pos­i­tive for Lassa fever.

A pathol­o­gist who took part in her au­topsy has also been con­firmed pos­i­tive and is hos­pi­tal­ized at LUTH’s iso­la­tion ward, where he is said to be re­spond­ing to treat­ment.

The hos­pi­tal’s chief med­i­cal di­rec­tor Chris Bode, who vis­ited the pa­tient on a morale­boost­ing tour yes­ter­day, has called on staff to main­tain “height­ened level of alert” in the wake of the out­break.

The hos­pi­tal said it had no­ti­fied the Nige­ria Cen­tre for Dis­ease Con­trol.

Hu­mans in­fected with Laser fever must be iso­lated to avoid hu­man to hu­man trans­mis­sion.

Close con­tacts of in­fected in­di­vid­u­als and health work­ers who do not ob­serve stan­dard in­fec­tion con­trol prac­tices are at in­creased risk of be­ing in­fected.

There is a good chance of cure with an an­tivi­ral agent called Ribavirin when treat­ment starts within the first week of the ill­ness. How­ever, Ribavirin is avoided in preg­nant women be­cause of the risk to the foe­tus.

Health work­ers also pro­vide sup­port­ive care with in­tra­venous flu­ids, blood trans­fu­sion and med­i­ca­tions for seizures as might be re­quired.

Pri­mary preven­tion in­volves avoid­ance of con­tact with rats. This tends to be height­ened fol­low­ing bush burn­ing. The rats are dis­placed from their nat­u­ral habi­tat so they come close to homes in search of alternative abode.

Ex­perts ad­vise that bushes and clut­ter around homes must be cleared to make the sur­round­ing unattrac­tive to rats; food, cook­ing uten­sils and drink­ing wa­ter must be kept in rat-proof con­tain­ers; and to avoid us­ing rats as food sources.

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