Collaborative Response To Lassa Fever Outbreak @ Nigerian Army Hospital

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Lassa Fever
Lassa Fever Rats.

A recent outbreak of Lassa fever at the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital Kaduna spurred a collaborative response involving the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH) and the Federal Ministry of Health.

Chief Medical Director of ISTH and lead of the response team, Prof. Reuben Eifediyi highlighted this collaborative effort in an interview with the media.

On February 24, 2024, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) confirmed Lassa fever as the cause of death for three health workers and one patient at the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital Kaduna (44 NARHK) in Kaduna State. Four out of six blood samples from suspected cases at the hospital were confirmed for Lassa fever after testing at the Bayero University Teaching Hospital in Kano. Additionally, 25 close contacts of the cases were placed on prophylactic medicine and monitored.

Despite initial challenges, including resource and staffing constraints, a specialised emergency response team was deployed. Comprised of experts in Lassa fever management and infection prevention, this team successfully contained the outbreak through real-time laboratory testing, isolation and treatment of confirmed cases. Three confirmed cases were treated and discharged without further fatalities.

This incident underscores the importance of effective partnerships and the rapid mobilisation of expertise in responding to public health emergencies. Health workers at the hospital received training on infection prevention and control measures. Eifediyi recommended structural improvements, increased staffing, training, equipment provision, and hygiene measures. He also advocated for ongoing capacity-building and the establishment of a biosafety molecular laboratory at the hospital.

Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic illness transmitted to humans through contact with contaminated rodents, food, or household items. Symptoms include fever, headache, sore throat, weakness, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pains, chest pain and, in severe cases, unexplained bleeding from various body openings.

The collaborative response to the Lassa fever outbreak demonstrates the importance of swift action and coordinated efforts in combating infectious diseases and safeguarding public health.

Racheal Abujah
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