By Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
The Abia State Government has announced the outbreak of Lassa fever in Olokoro community, Umuahia South Local Government of the state, resulting in the death of a 28-year-old man.
The Permanent Secretary in the state Ministry of Health, Chief Egbulefu Eze, announced the outbreak at a news conference Tuesday and allayed fears of possible epidemic.
He said that the victim died on January 1, 2020 at the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia where he was taken to, adding that it was after investigations that it was discovered that he died of Lassa fever.
“I want to report about an outbreak of lassa fever at Olokoro in Abia State,” he said, adding that it was the fourth time Abia has witnessed an Lassa fever outbreak since 1999.
However, he said that government had always contained the previous outbreaks and was already on top of the situation this time around.
Eze urged Abia residents not to panic as every measure has been taken to stop the spread of the viral illness caused by a specie of rats.
“There’s no cause for alarm; government is on top of the situation,” he assured the people.
According to him, all persons that came in close contact with the victim have been identified and placed on surveillance.
The permanent secretary said that disease surveillance officers of the ministry have already held meetings with the state office of World Health Organisation (WHO) to strategize on further action to checkmate the disease.
Corroborating the Ministry of Health, the Medical Director of FMC Umuahia, Dr Azubuike Onyebuchi, told journalists that the patient was initially suspected to be suffering from acute appendicitis and was taken to the theatre.
He said that it was on further examination that a case of Lassa fever was established, hence the hospital theatre was shut down and all personnel that came into contact with the victim have been placed on 21 days surveillance.
The Chairman of Medical Advisory Council (CMAC), Dr. Ugochukwu Onyeonoro, said that the hospital has been “decontaminated (and) contacts thought to be on high risk level placed on observation”.
He said that the patient was brought to FMC from another hospital and after it was discovered that it was a case of Lassa fever, the state government was promptly informed.