One person has been confirmed dead due to renewed outbreak of Lassa fever in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
The State Commissioner for Health, Dr TamunoiyoriaiSampson Parker,who made this disclosure in a broadcast to the people of the state in an attempt to alert them on the emergence of the disease, said the victim, a 33-year old man who was ensure that building materials trader was reportedly killed by the virus last week at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH).
Dr.Parker expressed unhappiness over the loss and appealed to residents to report early at a health facility each time a person experiences fever and other illnesses.
He assured on the state’s preparedness to a no further fatalities are recorded due to the disease.
He described the disease as highly communicable and kills very fast, stating however that it could be treated if reported early.
The Commissioner said the virus is hosted by rodents especially a multi-mammal rat, and is contracted by humans when in direct contact with their droppings, (faeces, and urine) or inhaled from dust.
According to him, “Lassa Fever is a viral disease of animals which infects man through rodents specifically the ubiquitous Mastomys Vatalensis.
“It is spread by direct contact with infected feaces/urine of rats and inhalation of their infected aerosols. Person to person contact through infected urine, blood, semen and aerosols of the infected individuals is also well documented.
“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.
Parker also said a ward has been prepared specially for the treatment of anyone found with the disease, and that drugs and medical personnel are also ready at no cost to the patients.
“I wish to inform you that 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 multi-disciplinary task force has already fashioned an integrated approach to ensure that the disease is contained .
He recalled that the state lost some lives including that of a nurse and a youth corps member to the virus last year and appealed to the public on proper and improved environmental hygienie .