By Sola Ogundipe, Chioma Obinna, Seyi Adeshina & Amarachi Adiele
Seven days after reports of Lassa fever outbreak at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, went viral, one of the three hospital workers infected by the Lassa virus has been discharged.
Two other infected patients have been responding to treatment and are likely to be discharged this week even as 60 persons under surveillance have been cleared from the list.
Giving this update to Vanguard in a telephone chat yesterday, the Chairman Medical Advisory Committee, CMAC, LUTH, Prof. Olufemi Fasanmade, said the first patient was discharged Sunday after being certified free of the infectious disease.
“We discharged one of them last Sunday and the remaining two will be discharged this week. They are all fine. They will be going home tomorrow (today) or next. After that we won’t have any other patient, apart from those that are under surveillance.”
Fasanmade also hinted that none of those under surveillance have shown symptoms of the deadly disease.
“About 60 of them are free now while another 70 are still under surveillance.”
Further, the CMAC, explained that by next week most of the people under surveillance would be completing the 21 days observation period, adding that if none shows symptoms, they would be cleared from the list and that would end the surveillance activities.
The incubation period of Lassa fever ranges from 6–21 days during which the virus could be transmitted by an infected person.
Asked about possibilities of any of the remaining 70 persons under surveillance coming down with symptoms of infection, Fasanmade said the chances were slim.
“No, we are not likely to have any emergency because it’s a thing that occurs recurrently and it is sporadic and endemic, meaning that, it is something that occurs and will continue to occur mostly on a yearly basis.
“It is just for us to control it, curtail it and ensure that the outbreak has very minimal death. It is just like malaria that occurs yearly.”
On precautionary measures put in place by LUTH to further stop the spread of the disease among hospital workers, Fasanmade who said the hospital workers are fully protected, regretted the outbreak, noting that it was an occupational hazard that health workers faced.
“This is why hospital workers are given some small hazard allowance, from time to time doctors and nurses will always have sicknesses acquired from their patients. So it is just for people to remember to use the protective equipment provided for them. LUTH has all these things.”
Fielding questions on possible support to Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta, he said: “Every hospital will collaborate with each other and we do provide support for one another. The one we are doing at LUTH now is in collaboration with the Lagos State Government so all centres collaborate, especially when people ask for help.
“They are probably working with their own state government and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, which is the central body in Abuja for disease control and other centres. I am sure they are getting enough support,” he added.
It would be recalled that five Lassa fever cases were earlier confirmed at the LUTH. Two deaths were recorded while three were admitted into the hospital’s isolation centre while about 150 persons exposed to the patients were placed under surveillance.