The outbreak was confirmed in a statement issued on Monday by the Chief Executive Officer of the NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu.
Ihekweazu stated that the centre got a notice last Sunday of the four victims of Lassa fever among health care workers in Ebonyi.
NCDC boss confirmed that three of the four victims had consequently lost their lives to Lassa fever. Meanwhile, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Daniel Umezuruike had hinted that two of the deceased wre medical doctors and the third was a nurse, whereas, the index patient who was the fourth affected by the disease, survived medical treatment and had been discharged.
Speaking further, Ihekweazu explained that NCDC had swung to action, following the instruction of the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, for prompt provision of support to the state government, to investigate and respond to this cluster of cases.
Following the report, he said the Ministry of Health through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, in partnership with the World Health Organisation (WHO) immediately commenced the public health response supporting the Ebonyi State Ministry of Health.
Ihekweazu said: “A Rapid Response Team has been immediately deployed from NCDC to support the state in response coordination, contact tracing, case management and strengthening infection prevention and control (IPC) procedures. The NCDC has also provided urgently required medical supplies and drugs to support case management in the state.
“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.”
He expressed his sympathy over the demise of the medical practitioners saying: “We commiserate with the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki (FETHA) and Ebonyi State Government, and will support them to avert a future occurrence.”
“Although there is no vaccine currently available for Lassa fever, the disease can be prevented.”
The NCDC CEO enjoined Nigerians to imbibe good hygiene by ensuring their environments are kept clean, so as to avoid rat infestation of our homes. He thus advised that food stuff should be kept in rodent-proof containers, garbage should be disposed properly and far from the home, adding that citizens should regularly wash their hands.
Ihekweazu also reminded the health care workers 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.
He charged health care workers to ensure that Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) are applied to all suspected cases of malaria, noting that when the RDT is negative, other causes of febrile illness, including Lassa fever, should be considered.
Ihekweazu further advised that extra caution should be taken by family members who are providing care for patients with Lassa fever.
He added that states are encouraged to ensure safe burial practices for patients who die from Lassa fever.
Ihekweazu assured that NCDC remains dedicated to supporting all states’ public health teams to prevent and respond to public health threats.
Source: Naija News