Three Persons Die of Lassa Fever in Rivers

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Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt

The Rivers State government has confirmed that three persons who tested positive to the Lassa Virus have died in the state.

Addressing journalists in Port Harcourt Wednesday, the acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Chinwe Atata, however advised members of the public not to panic as the state government is doing everything to contain the spread of virus.

Atata advised members of the public to continue all necessary preventive measures under the circumstances, describing Lassa fever as an acute Viral Haemorrhagic illness caused by the Lassa virus.

She said: “You will recall that a few days ago, I briefed you on a number of suspected cases that were being investigated in the state. We have received preliminary confirmation that three of the samples tested positive to Lassa virus.

“The Rivers State Public Health Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) had earlier commenced proactive effort for containment of the outbreak.

“So far, all hands are on deck for facility decontamination, line-listing, presumptive prophylaxis and surveillance to ensure public health safety and security.

“In addition, the state has procured large quantities of anti-viral agents, isolation centres have been designated and are being set up across the teaching hospitals in case of any eventuality. Rivers State Government is doing everything to contain the Lassa virus.

“Let me assure you that all hands are on deck to ensure rapid containment of the outbreak. There is therefore no cause for alarm as all cases are being managed with expertise according to the standard protocol for containment. We will update you regularly on further development if any.

“I will continue to reiterate that in view of the prevailing upsurge of Lassa fever cases in the country, all health service centres have been advised to maintain simple triage system for all patients and uphold standard infection prevention principles required for service delivery. The public is further advised to continue all necessary preventive measures under the circumstances.

“It is important to remind you that Lassa fever is an acute Viral Haemorrhagic illness caused by the Lassa virus.  The reservoir of the virus is the Multi-Mammate Rat and transmission could be from rodents-to-humans and also by ingestion of food and materials contaminated by infected rodent excreta or urine. It could also be from human-to-human by direct contact with infected blood, tissues, secretions or excretions of infected humans.

“Consequently, the general public is enjoined to promote good ‘community hygiene’ to prevent rodents from entering homes: There is therefore, no cause for alarm as the state Ministry of Health is taking care of the situation.”