The first case of Lassa fever has been reported in Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous state, Commissioner for Health Professor Akin Abayomi said in a statement on Wednesday. Abayomi said a patient is currently in isolation at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH.
Lassa fever has been raging in 19 states of Africa’s most populous country.
He said the situation was “under control” and urged residents be calm and not panic, assuring that State government in active collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, is doing everything possible to control the spread of the disease in Lagos State.
“The Ministry of Health through Epidemiology, Biosecurity and Global Health Directorate is currently carrying out ‘contact tracing’ to determine those who may have been infected in line with international standards while we beef up our other surveillance strategies”.
The State Commissioner for Health reiterated the need for members of the public to ensure and maintain adequate personal hygiene and environmental sanitation at all times as part of prevention and control measures against the spread of the disease in the State
He averred that that the prevention and control of the disease remains a shared responsibility of all citizens through observance of the highest possible standards of personal and community hygiene as well as environmental sanitation.
He urged 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 refuse properly at designated dump sites and not into the drainage system and store food items in rodent-proof containers. He added that it is by so doing that a habitable and conducive environment, and a disease-free State can be achieved.
“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.
Outlining strategies put in place by the State government to control the disease, the Commissioner explained that the Lagos State is 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 noted.
The Commissioner advised health workers, both in the public and private hospitals in the State to ensure that they observe 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 added.
He stated that a case of Lassa Fever should be suspected in any person with persistent high fever not responding to standard treatment for malaria and typhoid fever or bleeding from body surface.
The Commissioner urged health workers as well as citizens to report suspected case or cases of the disease to the nearest government approved health facility, the Ministry of Health or call the emergency operation centre lines – 08023169485, 08033565529 and 08052817243.
“I would like to reassure Lagosians that our vigilance levels are very high and we are putting more measures in place to safe guard the State”, Abayomi noted.