Following the outbreak of Lassa fever in Lagos, the state government has distributed 6,750 Personal Protective Equipment, PPEs, to all government hospitals in the state to protect health workers from the deadly disease.
Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris disclosed this at the weekend, saying that government is ready to tackle the new challenge posed by the disease.
Idris said the Mainland Hospital and all other General Hospitals had been placed on the alert and that the Anti-viral drugs for the management of cases were available, while ambulances had been dedicated to respond to referral and transportation of cases.
“Airing of jingles on Lassa fever on electronic media is underway. Also, there is the distribution of factsheets on Lassa fever to the Medical Directors of LASUTH and 26 General Hospitals in Lagos State, Medical Officers of Health in all the 57 LGAs/LCDAs, all other agencies of the Ministry and AGPMPN for circulation to all health workers in their facilities.
“There is also the reactivation of isolation wards in LASUTH and 26 General Hospitals in Lagos State for isolation of any suspected case as well as the prepositioning of PPEs in all 26 General Hospitals for use by health workers with 6,750 PPEs reserved at Mainland Hospital, Yaba.
“The Disease Surveillance and Notification Officers (DSNOs) in all the LGAs in the state have been sensitized on Lassa fever to enhance early detection and prompt reporting of cases. Creation of awareness on Lassa fever by the health educators in the 57 LGAs/LCDAs is ongoing. Sensitisation on Lassa fever of Iyaloja General of Nigeria and market leaders of all the 57 LGAs/LCDAs in Lagos by the State Health Educator is also ongoing,” he said.
Idris added that the state government is collaborating with the Federal Ministry of Health, Virology Reference Laboratory, College of Medicine, University of Lagos and World Health Organisation, Lagos in prevention and control of the disease.
“Members of the public are hereby to note that Lassa fever can be contracted through: ingestion of foods and drinks contaminated by the saliva, urine and faeces of infected rats, catching and preparing infected rats as food, inhaling tiny particles in the air contaminated with infected rat urine or droppings, direct contact with a sick person’s blood or body fluids, through mucous membranes, like eyes, nose or mouth.
“Those at highest risk include health workers, families and friends of an infected person in the course of feeding, holding and caring for them. Though Lassa fever and Ebola Virus Disease belong to the same Viral Haemorrhagic Fever group, Lassa Fever is milder and can be treated and cured if detected early. Therefore, any persistent fever should be reported to the nearest public health facility.
“Residents are urged to watch out for the signs and symptoms of Lassa fever which typically occur within 1-3 weeks after the patient comes into contact with the virus. Early symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, chills, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, sore throat, backache, and joint pains. Late symptoms include bleeding from the eyes, ears and nose, bleeding from the mouth and rectum, eye swelling, swelling of the genitals and rashes all over the body that often contain blood. It could progress to coma, shock and death.
“They are also advised to suspect Lassa fever in persons with the foregoing symptoms and positive history of contact with an infected person or health worker who had treated either suspected or confirmed cases,” he stated.
The commissioner enjoined residents to observe a high level of personal and environmental hygiene by avoiding contact between rats and human beings, ensure proper collection and disposal of waste, covering all foods (including left-overs) and water properly, washing hands properly before and after cooking of foods, blocking all rat hideouts and storing food items in rodent-proof containers.
“Members of the public and health workers are to report any case or symptoms of persistent high fever not responding to standard treatment for malaria and typhoid fever to the nearest health facility or call the following lines: 08037170614, 08022234273, 08022241768, 08033065303, 08033086660, 08055281442 and 08023169485,” he said.
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