29 January 2013

Nigeria: Lassa Fever Strikes Again in Lafia

Photo: Radio Okapi/ Ph. John Bompengo
Tests in a medical laboratory.

Lafia — A child was taken to the Dalhatu Araf Specialists' Hospital (DASH), in Lafia, at the weekend, following the spread of Lassa fever confirmed in the state capital, more than a week ago.

The killer disease was discovered at Tudun Gwandara an over-populated and one of the dirtiest sections of the metropolis of Lafia. Daily Trust gathered that one of the victims had exposed garri (a local cassava flakes), in the sun and given access to rats to urinate and contaminate the foodstuff with the Lassa virus.

So far, four victims all of them neighbours, contracted the disease.

Dr. Ahmed Yakubu Ashiki, the Chief Medical Director (CMD) at the state owned DASH, confirmed a fourth victim - the child - was rushed to the hospital, but added that the child's case was still being confirmed because of the distance between Nasarawa State and Edo where the laboratory test is being carried out.

He said two other victims confirmed to have contacted the disease are still on admission in a secluded ward, and are doing fine.

A victim has already died, shuttling between DASH and Federal Medical Centre (FMC) in Keffi, in a frantic search for medical attention. The management of the two respective hospitals, as well as the state commissioner of health, Dr. Emmanuel Akabe confirmed that the deceased first reported at DASH, but was referred to FMC, about one hour, 40 minutes drive from Lafia because the hospital could not secure a bed space for him.

They also confirmed that FMC also told him there was no bed space, and advised him to return to Lafia where he was coming from.

The victim died eventually, shuttling between DASH and FMC, in the frantic bid to get treatment.

The commissioner said reports available to him showed that the patient died four days ago, after he reached DASH, but refused to stay longer while arrangement for his bed was being made.

Jamilu Nagogo, head of the information unit at FMC, confirmed that the patient was at the hospital for medical attention, just as he confirmed that he had no admission there because of lack of bed space.

Nagogo recalled an experience from the outbreak of Lassa Fevere about two years ago, which compelled the health facility to create a secluded quarters for patients to avoid other patients and staff of the hospital from contracting the disease.

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