Consequent on the reemergence of Lassa Fever in the country, the Federal Ministry of Health through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has developed the National guidelines for Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), as well as Lassa Fever case management and has disseminated these guidelines to States.
According to the Chief Executive Officer of the NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, ‘Healthcare workers in health facilities are particularly at risk of contracting the disease, especially where infection prevention and control (IPC) procedures are not strictly adhered to. We therefore strongly advise that healthcare workers practice universal care precautions while handling patients at all times, not just when Lassa Fever is suspected’.
Healthcare workers are again reminded that Lassa Fever presents initially like any other disease causing a febrile illness such as malaria; and are advised to practice universal care precautions at all times. Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) must be applied to all suspected cases of malaria. When the RDT is negative, other causes of febrile illness including Lassa Fever should be considered.
The Cross River State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Inyang Asibong has warned Cross River residents on the need to improve on their overall hygiene as the Government will not hesitate to take immediate actions against persons who do not adhere to the precautionary measures. According to her, improved personal and environmental hygiene is one of the best and surest ways to prevent the disease which has no known vaccine yet. She also called on healthcare workers to apply extra caution when handling patients at all times.
Lassa Fever is a viral hemorrhagic disease, caused by contact with food or household items contaminated with rodent urine or faeces. The Lassa virus may also be spread between humans through direct contact with blood, urine, faeces, or other bodily secretions of a person infected with Lassa fever. Although there is no vaccine currently available for Lassa Fever, the disease can be prevented.
Extra caution should be taken by family members who are providing care for patients with Lassa Fever. In addition, States are encouraged to ensure safe burial practices for patients who die from Lassa Fever.
Members of the public are advised to keep their environments clean in order to discourage rats from entering homes. Food stuff should be stored in rodent-proof containers, garbage should be disposed properly and far from the home, and hand washing should be practiced frequently.