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GHS issues Lassa fever alert after 31 die in Nigeria outbreak

Doctors attend to a Lassa fever patient
File photo: Doctors attend to a Lassa fever patient in Nigeria

The Ghana Health Service has issued an alert to all Regional Directors of Health Services and CEOs of Teaching Hospitals for Lassa Fever.

The alert urged the various health institutions to enhance surveillance for Lassa fever and Acute Haemorrhagic Fevers in general.

This alert follows the outbreak of the fever in Nigeria which has claimed 31 lives.

“The Ministry of Health of Nigeria has confirmed and subsequently declared Lassa fever outbreak which has affected about 18 states with over 300 cases and 31 deaths. The outbreak has been on-going for the past six weeks and has necessitated urgent spontaneous national response actions among all neighbouring countries. Lassa fever outbreak has been recurrent in Nigeria and the current outbreak has affected health workers in some states,” the alert stated.

Among other recommendations, the Health Service noted that suspected cases must be treated in isolation and advised health workers to adhere to regular Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures to prevent and protect against possible transmission.

General information on Lass fever

Lassa fever is an Acute Viral Haemorrhagic Fever illness which is endemic in the West Africa. The incubation period is 6-21 days.

The onset of the fever has non-specific signs and symptoms but fever, general weakness and malaise have been noted in its early stages.

This is followed by headaches, sore throat, muscle pain, chest pain, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pains.

Severe cases may progress to show facial swelling, and bleeding.

Shock, seizures, disorientation, and coma may be seen in the late stages.

About 80 % of Lassa Fever infections are mild or asymptomatic.

Find below the full Ghana Health Service alert.

ALL RDHS, GHS

ALL CEOs, TEACHING HOSPITALS

LASSA FEVER ALERT

The Ministry of Health of Nigeria has confirmed and subsequently declared Lassa fever outbreak which has affected about 18 states with over 300 cases and 31 deaths. The outbreak has been on-going for the past six weeks and has necessitated urgent spontaneous national response actions among all neighbouring countries. Lassa fever outbreak has been recurrent in Nigeria and the current outbreak has affected health workers in some states.

We respectfully request the Regional Directors of Health Services and CEOs of Teaching Hospitals to ensure this Alert Message reaches all health workers in the respective Regions, Districts and Hospitals, including the Mission and Private Facilities.

We further request the Regional Directors of Health Services to initiate process to create public awareness on Lassa Fever.

We recommend the following to all health workers and institutions:

  1. Surveillance on Lassa fever and Acute Haemorrhagic Fevers in general (using case definitions) should be enhanced.
  2. Suspected cases of Lassa fever should be managed in specific isolation conditions
  3. Health workers should adhere to regular Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures to prevent and protect against possible nosocomial transmission
  4. Blood sample from suspected case(s) should be taken and safely packaged and sent to Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) for laboratory investigations
  5. All levels (National, Regions, Districts and Facilities) are requested to update their preparedness and response plans for Lassa fever and VHF in general, sensitize the respective staff and create necessary public awareness.
  6. Attached are general information on Lassa fever

We count very on your highest professional conduct, maximum cooperation and support to prevent, early detect and respond to any emergence or re-emergence of Lassa fever and any other infectious diseases.

DR ANTHONY NSIAH-ASARE

DIRECTOR GENERAL, GHANA HEALTH SERVICE

CC: ALL DIVISIONAL DIRECTORS, GHS HQ

” ALL REGIONAL DEPUTY DIRECTORS, PH & CLINICAL CARE

By: Delali Adogla-Bessa/citifmonline.com/Ghana

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