Another Nigerian doctor diagnosed with Lassa Fever

The acting permanent secretary, Jigawa State Ministry of health, Salisu Mu’azu, confirmed this to PREMIUM TIMES Sunday morning.

The victim, Anthony Etim, said to be a staff of Medicins Sans Frontieres also known as Doctors without Borders, is now being treated at the isolated Infectious disease control unit in Jahun hospital at Jahun Local Government Area of Jigawa.

Mr Etim reportedly developed the symptoms following an official engagement at an Internally Displaced Persons Camps (IDPs Camp) in Borno State.

This development is coming days after PREMIUM TIMES reported how two doctors and a pregnant woman died from the disease in the neighbouring Kano State.

Mr Mu’azu said about eleven people in Birnin Kudu Local Government Area of Jigawa are being closely monitored following contact with a relative, a medical doctor, now quarantined in Kano over the Lassa fever.

He said the state government is taking precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the disease among health personnel by using the approved standard of protective materials for its personnel.

Also, radio jingles are being in place to enlighten the public about the killer disease and the need for prevention, the official said.

Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus. The disease is endemic in Nigeria and cases are recorded all year round.

The natural carrier of the virus is the multimammate rat, but the disease is also spread through human to human transmission.

Lassa fever is largely transmitted through contact with items or surfaces contaminated with urine, faeces, saliva or blood of infected rats.

It can also be transmitted from person-to-person through contact with blood, urine, faeces and other body fluids of an infected person.

Early symptoms are fever, headache, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, sore throat etc. In very severe cases, the patient bleeds from body openings.

Between January 1 and 19, a total of 398 suspected cases were reported from various states across Nigeria, leading to 24 deaths.

This figure is expected to rise as more states have reported cases of the disease. PREMIUM TIMES reported the announcement by Kano State on Wednesday that three people died from the disease. Also, Enugu State on Wednesday confirmed one death from the disease.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) activated a National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to coordinate the response activities.

The NCDC advised that if a patient does not respond to treatment for malaria or other febrile illnesses after 48 hours, it is important to test immediately for Lassa fever.

Also, health care workers are advised to maintain a high index of suspicion as Lassa fever can occur alongside like malaria and other illnesses.

It is also very important that healthcare workers maintain standard care precautions when managing patients.

A medical doctor, Habib Mansur, said one way of preventing Lassa fever is by promoting good community hygiene to discourage rodents from entering homes.

He said other effective prevention methods include storing grains and other foodstuffs in rodent-proof containers, disposing of garbage far from the home and maintaining clean households.

He also mentioned the avoidance of contacts with blood and body fluids while caring for a sick person.