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