Nicholas-AzingeThe Delta State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Nicholas Azinge has confirmed the outbreak of the deadly disease caused by Lassa fever, affirming that one person has already been confirmed dead from the disease in the State.

Dr. Azinge, who made the revelation in his office, during a press briefing on the outbreak of the disease in the State, said the victim, who is a male, hailed from Anambra State and was a medical practitioner resident at Umuaji quaters, Asaba where his private clinic was also situated.

According to the Commissioner, the late victim was taken to El-Comfort Hospital located somewhere in the Bonsac area, Asaba with a two weeks history of fever, weakness and drowsiness for treatment, but was later referred to Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH), Nnewi, Anambra State where his condition deteriorated and he later passed on after 3 hours on admission, adding that a blood sample earlier collected from the victim was confirmed positive for Lassa fever at the Institute of Lassa fever, Irrua, Edo State.

Dr. Azinge assured Deltans and residents that his Ministry was on top of the matter as the state’s Emergency Preparedness Response (EPR) Team is coordinating the State’s response to contain the spread of the disease.

He equally confirmed that a blood sample was taken and tested from the late victim’s wife and it came out negative at the Institute of Lassa Fever, Irrua, Edo State. Even as he added that a total of thirty-two (32) persons have been placed on surveillance, including eleven (11) persons from the immediate family of the diseased, eighteen (18) persons who were at El- Comfort Hospital while the victim was there for treatment and 3 persons at General Hospital, Ibusa that conveyed him to Nnamdi AzikiweUniversity Teaching Hospital Nnewi, Anambra State. Latest reports however indicate that the number of person under surveillance has increased to 40, while two persons have been given a clean bill of health.

While assuring that two (2) Local Government Areas (LGA) Disease Surveillance Officers in Oshimili South and Oshimili North were actively involved as part of the State response Team, Dr Azinge noted that they have been monitoring the temperature of those under surveillance and this will be done for a period of 21days as the two hospitals the victim passed through in Asaba have been temporarily shut down and fumigated to check the spread of the disease.

He said that his Ministry is collaborating with the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital Nnewi (NAUTH) officials, the Institute of Lassa fever, Irrua, Edo State, the Anambra State Ministry of Health and the State Nigerian Medical Association on the disease as events unfold.

In addition, the Delta State Health Commissioner said that the State has reactivated the Emergency Preparedness Response (EPR) Team while sensitization of Health workers in the State is ongoing for them to have a high index of suspicion and take preventive measures when managing infectious cases.

According to him, awareness creation through the various mass media will commence immediately so that the general public can understand how the disease is transmitted and therefore take preventive measures to forestall its spread.

Outbreak prevention materials have also been pre-positioned in high risk disease outbreak Local government Areas (LGAs) and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), non-contact thermometers and other items have been distributed to the Disease Surveillance and Notification Officers in all of the 25 Local government (LGAs) in the State by the State Ministry of Health, Commissioner Azinge emphasized, stressing that the Lassa fever drug – Rivabirin has been procured for immediate case management.

He the advised residents to make efforts to always keep their environment clean, wash their hands properly, keep their food away from the reach of rats and exterminate rats in their environment as they are the main carrier of the disease, counseling further that those who had formed the habits of drying food stuff outside should discontinue that habit so that rats do not have access to human consumables.

He used the opportunity to thank the Governor, Sen. (Dr.) Ifeanyi Okowa for his efforts in providing the necessary support and logistics towards the containment of the disease and assured the general public not to panic since the situation is under control.

It was also confirmed by very competent sources that the deceased Medical Practitioner from the Lassa Fever outbreak will be laid to rest this weekend in full compliance with the established protocols and procedures defined by the World Health Organization for such unfortunate cases.

Reported by Ojebo Donald, PRO, Delta State Ministry of Health.

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