Lassa Fever Scare, CRS Health Ministry Keeps Mum

While two suspected Lassa fever deaths appear to have occurred in Cross River State, officials of the Ministry of Health in the state, are lip tied with information concerning the suspected Lassa fever deaths, even though sources within the Ministry have silently confirmed that certain health facilities in the state believed to have managed the late patients have been quarantined.

At the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, UCTH, was informed that several health personnel believed to have seen the suspected Lassa fever patients, are under observation in a concerted bid to manage what medical experts say is a dicey health situation. Health ministry sources also informed that only Inyang Asibong, the CRS Commissioner for Health is authorized to give information on the situation in a bid to ensure that the general public does not panic. Several round of meetings are said to have been held and duties assigned unnamed officials who still are at a loss, regarding the situation at hand.

Asibong we hear is furious that local private radio station, HIT 95.9 FM, reported the fatalities in her daily news bulletin, causing a mild stir which put the health ministry’s combating efforts on the spot. But communication sources within the state who have elected to remain anonymous insist that Asibong and co cannot sit on such life threatening information. They opined that rather than frown at the station’s report of the fatalities, her ministry should have put out a deliberate plan of action to inform and educate the general public on the likely symptoms of the disease to look out for as well as toll free health lines to call in suspected cases.

Lassa fever is an acute illness caused by Lassa virus. It is transmitted to humans from contacts with food or household items contaminated with rodent excreta. The disease is endemic in the rodent population in parts of West Africa. Humans usually become infected with Lassa virus from exposure to urine or faeces of infected rats. It may also be spread between humans through direct contact with the blood, urine, faeces, or other bodily secretions of a person infected with Lassa fever. Primary transmission of the Lassa virus from its host to humans can be prevented by avoiding contact with rats, especially in the geographic regions where outbreaks occur. Putting food away in rodent-proof containers and keeping the home clean helps to discourage rodents from entering homes.

The incubation period of Lassa fever ranges from 6–21 days. The onset of the disease is usually gradual, starting with fever, general weakness, and malaise. After a few days, headache, sore throat, muscle pain, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, cough, and abdominal pain may follow.



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