Fear grips residents as Lassa fever kills one in Enugu

FEAR has gripped many residents of Enugu, the Enugu State capital over the confirmed death of a 75-year-old woman as a result of Lassa fever in the metropolis.

Investigation revealed that the news of the death of the woman went round like wildfire causing panic in Enugu and its environs.

The Permanent Secretary in the State Ministry of Health, Dr Ifeanyi Agujiobi, had in a statement on Wednesday which was made available to Tribune Online in Enugu, disclosed that a 75yr old woman who was presented to Enugu State University Teaching Hospital (ESUTH-Parklane) as at 10 days ago with some symptoms akin to malaria died of the dreaded disease even as she did not visit neighbouring state where such case exists.

Dr Agujiobi stated that 3 days ago, the victim started vomiting blood and the high index of suspicion came.

According to him, “Sample was taken to Virology centre at Abakaliki, Ebonyi State and it was confirmed to be positive of Lassa fever. Unfortunately, the patient died yesterday.”

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Dr Agujobi further stated that the State Ministry of Health Public Head Department with the ESUTH Parklane management has stepped up action to decontaminate all sections of the hospital that the patient was managed including the ICU unit. “Contact tracing is ongoing and there will be sensitization of all health care workers at the ESUTH Parklane tomorrow so that any health worker that perhaps came in contact with the deceased will be monitored and some possibly placed on prophylactic Ribavarine therapy.”

“They will be followed up by the State Epidemiological team,” he added.

He also stated that the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had been contacted and they are making every arrangement to send in some health commodities to support the State Ministry of Health who has already dispatched a lot of prophylactic and PPE materials.

While assuring members of the public not to panic, Dr Agujiobi stated, “arrangement is being made to bury safely the corpse immediately because of the public health implications.”

His words: “We advise all persons to observe universal health precautions especially washing of hands with soaps at all times, avoid eating rats or the likes as well as avoiding drinking raw garri because of the vector that transmits the disease.

“This Lassa fever is caused by Lassa Virus- A hemorrhagic viral disease. The disease may be asymptomatic but can present with symptoms mimicking malaria.

“All the same the public are informed not to panic as all hands are on deck to curtail and contain this problem.”

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