ENSG confirms 4th case of Lassa fever, starts step-down awareness in communities

The Enugu State Government has confirmed the fourth case of Lassa fever in the state.

Dr Ifeanyi Agujiobi, Permanent Secretary, Enugu State Ministry of Health, confirmed the incidence in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Enugu on Tuesday.

Agujiobi however, said that the patient was undergoing intensive medical care in an undisclosed health facility in the state.

“Yes, we have officially confirmed the fourth case of suspected Lassa fever in the state.

“However, the patient is going through thorough and intensive care in a medical facility,’’ he said.

The permanent secretary, who declined further questions on the recent case, said there would be a press briefing or official statement issued on the matter.

NAN recalls that the two of the four suspected cases of Lassa fever in the state had died.

One of the suspected Lassa fever patients died at Enugu State University Teaching Hospital, (ESUTH) Parklane, and the other at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Ituku/Ozalla near Enugu within a space of one week.

In a related development, the state government had commenced sensitisation and information step-down on the outbreak of Lassa fever in 17 council areas as well as communities in the state.

Dr George Ugwu, the Executive Secretary of Enugu State Primary Healthcare Centre Development Agency (ENS-PHCDA), told newsmen during a train the trainers’ workshop that PHC officials needed to take the right message to the rural people.

Ugwu said that the workshop was organised for PHC Coordinators, Disease Surveillance Officers and Disease Information Educators in the 17 council areas, adding that the agency would further step-down the training in each council area in the state.

“We want to further deepen information and awareness on Lassa fever as well as risk factors and life-style, which our people at the rural communities must avoid to keep them and everyone safe; since prevention is better than cure.

“The training covers symptoms, case definition and appropriate way of sharing Lassa fever message without causing panic since the government through the state ministry of health and the agency is on top of the situation and doing all possible to contain it.

“We are also advising our PHC workers, who are the first health responders at the communities, to be suspicious of all feverish symptom; take all personal preventive measures; ensure regular hand washing and disinfecting their PHC facilities always,’’ he said.

Ugwu however, urged residents, especially rural dwellers to stop eating any form of rat; maintain constant hand washing and general environmental cleanliness.

He called on elderly people to stop children from playing, touching or catching rats in any form.

Our people should stop drying garri, abacha and other food items in open fields; cover all food and food handling containers/plates and ensure that they do not eat leftover food, which is uncovered,’’ he said.

NAN reports that so far the state had done 307 contacts tracing for those exposed to the various confirmed Lassa fever cases in the state.

About 251 contact tracing done for health workers in health facilities within the state and 56 contact tracing for family members and relatives of patients confirmed already.

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