20 January 2010

Nigeria: Swine Flu - 'Vaccine Not Available'

Lagos — Just a fortnight after Influenza A/H1N1 (swine flu) killed a 38-year-old woman in Lagos and eight others subsequently tested positive, Lagos State Govern-ment yesterday disclosed that Nigeria currently "has no vaccine to treat the flu virus in stock".

The state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris told journalists at a briefing held at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre along with Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dr. Adetoun Agbe-Davies and Director of Disease Control, Dr. Femi Taiwo.

Idris, however said the state government had finalised the decision to procure the vaccine from abroad within a timeframe of four weeks in order to respond to the health crisis, though urged to take some precautionary measures.

He added that the 38-year-old victim of Influenza A/H1N1 (swine flu) travelled to the United States about three months ago and developed a respiratory tract infection about six weeks after the victim returned to the country.

The commissioner said the victim was referred to "a private hospital in Eti-Osa Local Government where she was being managed for pneumonia" before she died January 5, though it was discovered after her death that she died of the virus.

Idris said the State Epidemics Rapid Response Team "immediately visited the hospital for further investigations, which revealed eight persons already tested positive in the state, though confirmed that the state health team had intensified response and enlightment effort to address the crisis of Influenza A/H1N1.

He explained that a total number of 52 samples of nose and throat swats of close contacts were taken the laboratory comprising those came in contact with the victim before and after she developed pneumonia with symptoms of fever, headaches, productive cough, shortness of breath and respiratory distress.

He added: "Results of 46 are already, and eight are positive of Influenza A/H1N1 (swine flu). Those tested positive have since been placed on antivirals-Tamiflu, and surveillance activities have started, and are still on-going. This is the third case of Influenza A/H1N1 (swine flu) in Lagos but the only death recorded".

The commissioner said surveillance activities "are commenced and are still on-going. Motorised mass public enlightenment activities are being intensified while print and electronic jingles and other enlightenment materials are being rolled out to alert the public on what to do if certain symptoms are noticed".

He assured the public that the state health team "is on the top of the situation," but urged to take all the precautionary measures stated herewith: "Always cover your mouth with a tissue or handkerchief when coughing or sneezing and dispose properly after use and wash your hands with soap and water as often as possible.

"Try not to touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus; avoid close contact with sick people especially with the flu-like symptoms; defer unnecessary travel to widely affected areas; and if you are sick with flu, stay at home until you have been free of fever for 24 hours and avoid contact other people as much as possible.

"The public should also report any cases of fever, cough (typically a dry cough), headache, muscle or joint pain, sore throat, chills, fatigue, anorexia, runny nose, diarrhea and vomiting (with history of travel to outbreak countries) to the nearest health centres," the commissioner stated.

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