Lassa Fever Claims One Casualty In Port Harcourt



By Paul Obiajunwo, Port Harcourt


A 33-year- old trader in building materials has been reportedly killed by Lassa fever outbreak in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

The state commissioner for Health, Dr. Sampson Parker disclosed this in a state-wide broadcast to the people of the state yesterday. He said the victim died at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH).

Parker regretted the loss and appealed to residents to report early to hospital when faced with serious fever.

He said the state has made adequate preparations to ensure no further lives are lost.

The health commissioner described the disease as fast killer, saying that it is highly communicable.

He however assured that it could be treated if reported early.

Parker said a special ward has been prepared for adequate and efficient treatment of anyone found with the disease.

This is the second time the state is being hit by the virus within one year.

It was among the 11 states of the country where the disease was reported last year.

Some lives including that of a hospital nurse and a youth corps member posted to the state were lost at the last year’s attack.

The commissioner said the virus is found in rodents especially the multi-mammal rats; and could be contacted by direct contact with rat droppings (faeces and urine).

“Lassa Fever is a viral disease of animals which infects man through rodents, specifically the ubiquitous Mastomys Natalensis.  It is spread by direct contact with infected feaces/urine of rats and inhalation of their infected aerosols.  Persons to person contact through infected urine blood, semen and aerosols of the infected individuals is also well documented”, Parker said.

“The common symptoms which manifest after about 6-21 days incubation period include fever, rigor, cough, muscle pain, sore, throat, facial swelling, weakness, diarrhea, constipation, seizures, deafness and unexpected bleeding.  When identified early in the symptomatic individuals chances of recovery with antiviral treatment are very high”.

“The government has risen to this challenge by intensifying surveillance and consolidating on the established control structures.  An isolation ward has been designed and equipped for this purpose at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Choba and a mult-disciplinary task force has already fashioned an integrated approach to ensure that the disease is contained. Government has procured sufficient drugs and consumables to manage exposed persons and suspected cases.” he assured.