3 June 2014

Nigeria: Ebonyi - Re-Occurrence of Lassa Fever, Cause for Concern - CMD

The Chief Medical Director (CMD) of Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki (FETHA), Ebonyi State, Dr. Paul Ezeonu, has warned that last month's outbreak of Lassa fever in the hospital which affected 22 medical and health workers as well as the re-occurrence of cases of Lassa fever in the state calls for serious concern.

Ezeonu therefore called on the Federal Ministry of Health to build virology laboratory with Dialysis Lassa centre in the state to tackle the scourge of the ailment in the state.

He explained that establishment of virology lab and a centre for the fever would help to save lives.

The CMD further stated that out of 22 workers infected, 21 had been treated and discharged at Lassa Fever Centre in Irrua in Edo State while one person with some complications was still receiving treatment, adding that it took the prompt and proactive action of the hospital management and the state government to rush the patients to Edo where they diagnosed of the virus.

Ezeonu who spoke to journalists in his office Monday on the measures to curtail the future outbreak said the only way out was to keep the environment clean and to stop eating rat, adding that one can also contract the disease when the rat with the virus urinates or defecates on food items and they are eaten.

He said that the wards where the pregnant woman who brought the Lassa fever into the hospital was treated were later sealed and had been opened after fumigating the places, stressing that the state had become endemic of the disease because there was no year there would not be Lassa outbreak in the state.

"We are happy we did not lose anybody in the outbreak because if we lose 20 or more health workers how many remains in the hospital. So, we should not wait until the rain has beaten us before we start running. It is very clear that the Federal and state

governments should put heads together so that before the end of this year, we have a virology lab and a centre for Lassa for the South-East in Ebonyi where we have an endemic area.

"We don't know the actual place the woman who brought the disease to the hospital carried it, whether she contracted it from another person, we don't know, so there is need for contact tracing and education especially for the public health sector of the state.

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