Lassa fever enters Rivers State


Barth Ndubuwah,Port Harcourt

The Rivers State Government said it has recorded the spread of Lassa fever in the State.

Addressing journalists Wednesday in Port Harcourt,Director Planning, Research and Statistics,State Ministry of Health,Dr Chinwe Tonye Atata said, “we have received preliminary confirmation that three of the samples tested positive to Lassa virus. The Rivers State Public Health Emergency Operation Center (EOC) had earlier commenced pro-active effort for containment of the outbreak. So far,all hands are on deck for facility decontamination,line-listing,presumptive prophylaxis and surveillance to ensure public health safety and security.”

The Director,who is also the Acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry said in addition,the State has procured large quantities of anti-viral agents and that isolation centers have been designated and set up across the teaching hospitals in case of any eventuality.

“This is indicative that the Rivers Government is doing everything to contain the Lassa virus.

Let me assure you that all hands are on deck to ensure rapid containment of the outbreak. There is therefore no cause for alarm as all cases are being managed with expertise according to the standard protocol for containment,”Dr Atata said.

She pledged to give regular update as events unfold. The Ag. Permanent Secretary reiterated the need for all health centers in Rivers State to maintain simple triage systems for all patients and uphold standard infection prevention principles required for service delivery.

The Director advised the public to continue all preventive measures under the circumstance. She stressed that Lassa fever is an acute Viral Hemorrhagic Illness caused by the Lassa Virus. This, she said has its reservoir in the multi-mammate rat and transmission could be from rodent to human and by ingestion of food or materials contaminated by infected rodent excreta or urine.

Dr Atata said it could also be transmitted from human to human by direct contact with infected blood,tissues,secretions or excretions of infected humans.

She therefore enjoined the general public to promote good community hygiene to prevent rodents from entering their homes. These,she said should include keeping of food and water covered to prevent contamination by rats, disposing of refuse far from the home and maintaining clean households among others.