Lassa fever: Lagos monitoring 63 contacts ― Commissioner

Lagos State government said on Wednesday that 63 people who had contacts with the Lassa fever patient in the state are being monitored.

The government had earlier announced a case of Lassa fever in Lagos, with the victim currently in isolation at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH).

The State’s Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi, disclosed this at a news conference in Alausa, Ikeja, saying the victim is a student who came in from Ebonyi and that his destination was the Lagos Law School.

The commissioner said the victim took ill and that the health facilities tried to treat him for common ailments such as malaria and others, but discovered that he was not responding to all those treatments.

He said the government later decided to test the victim for Lassa fever and it was positive.

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Abayomi said the government had begun contact tracing and that 63 contacts were being monitored to see if they would develop Lassa fever symptom.

The commissioner disclosed that the victim was now in active treatment at the isolation centre, even as he appealed to residents of the state to maintain proper hygiene and ensured that they eliminate rats from their environment.

He said the prevention and control of the disease remained a shared responsibility of all citizens through the observance of the highest possible standards of personal and community hygiene as well as environmental sanitation.

Abayomi enjoined residents to store house-hold refuse in sanitary refuse bags or dust bins with tight-fitting covers to avoid infestation by rats and rodents; dispose of refuse properly at designated dump sites and not into the drainage system and store food items in rodent-proof containers.

He said doing this would ensure a habitable and conducive environment and a disease-free state.

“Members of the public are further advised to avoid contact with rats, to always cover their food and water properly, cook all their food thoroughly, as well as block all holes in the septic tanks and holes through which rats can enter the house and clear rat hideouts within the premises,” he said.

On strategies put in place to control the disease, the Commissioner explained that the Lagos State was maintaining relevant surveillance activities through its disease surveillance officers at local government level to prevent the spread of the disease in Lagos.

“Isolation wards have been prepared to manage suspected and confirmed cases, drugs and other materials have also been prepositioned at designated facilities while health workers have been placed on red alert and community sensitization activities intensified,” Abayomi said.

He advised health workers, both in the public and private hospitals in the state to ensure that they observed universal safety precautions and comply with infection prevention and control measures when dealing with patients, stressing that appropriate personal protective equipment like hand gloves, facemasks, goggles and overalls must be worn when attending to cases.

“Hands must be washed often with soap and running water or application of hand sanitizers after each contact with patients or contaminated materials and instruments must be autoclaved. Also, hospital mattresses must be covered with plastic sheets to prevent contamination,” Abayomi said.

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