Lassa Fever case confirmed in Ghana

Accra, A joint statement by the Ghana Health Service, World Health Organisation and Government have confirmed the existence of Lassa Fever Case in Ghana.

It said the patient was rushed to the Tema General Hospital with general body weakness, severe headache, joint pains, profuse vomiting of blood with clots.

The Patient, a 26-year old man, died at the Tema General Hospital on February 28, 2018 and hails from the Kintampo North District.

”The symptoms started on February 22. He vomited blood with clots on admission. The patient had come from Kintampo North District about a few weeks ago to Tema. Within the three-week period, he also travelled to Eastern, Volta and the Brong-Ahafo Regions.

”He was suddenly taken ill on February 22 and he reported to the Tema General Hospital on February 23, after the symptoms had worsened and was admitted. The patient was seen at the Emergency Unit of the hospital and resuscitation and further investigations were started.

The statement said blood sample was taken and sent to Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research for laboratory investigation and was confirmed as Lassa fever.

It said the patient was managed in the isolation unit and was later moved to the Infectious Disease Centre at the Tema General Hospital.

It said the patient’s condition improved for a while but started deteriorating on the night of February 27. Unfortunately, he died in the early hours of February 28.

The statement further said the Ghana Health Service and the Ministry of Health had taken action which are: the safe and dignifying burial done under supervision and support of trained professionals, enhance surveillance, including Points of Entry (POEs) Surveillance with screening at the respective POEs, Contact tracing and follow up process have been initiated and Regional and districts health facilities have been informed about the outbreak.

Others are: Media sensitisation and public education, which started about two weeks ago and is still ongoing, following the alert from the outbreak in Nigeria early this year, Sensitization of staff on Lassa Fever (Prevention, Case Management, Standard Precautionary Measures, Barrier Nursing) had been initiated and it is ongoing,

Also processed had been initiated to mobilize and stockpile essential logistics such as drugs and Personal Protecting Equipment, Public Health Emergency Management Committees at all levels (National, Regions and Districts) have been activated and the Ghana National Technical Coordinating Committee, which is multisectoral and multidisciplinary had been activated and met to discuss response activities for containment.

The statement appealed to the public to adhere to actions towards prevention and protection against further spread of the disease as per information sheet on the disease attached.

The statement said Lassa fever is an acute viral infectious disease, which is endemic in West Africa. The disease is gradual in onset with non-specific signs and symptoms.

It said about 80 per cent of infections are mild or without symptoms, however the disease can be severe and fatal.

The statement said the incubation period is between 2-21 days. Ghana had earlier in 2011 confirmed few cases of Lassa fever in Ashanti and Eastern regions.

It said early symptoms include: fever, general weakness, and malaise.

”After a few days, headache, sore throat, muscle pain, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, cough, and abdominal pain may follow.

”In severe cases facial swelling, fluid in the lung cavity, bleeding tendencies (from the mouth, nose, vagina or gastrointestinal tract). This may result in low blood pressure and shock.

”Late presentation may include shock, convulsion, disorientation, coma, multiple organ failure, Complications during recovery include permanent hearing loss (30 per cent of cases); transient hair loss; and gait disturbance during recovery. The disease may present like Ebola, Yellow fever, Malaria, Typhoid fever, Respiratory Tract Infections, Ear, Nose and Throat Infections”, the statement said.

The statement said Lassa fever is transmitted to humans through contact with the urine, saliva, faeces and blood of rodents. The disease is endemic in rodent population in parts of West Africa. The reservoir for the virus is multi-mammate rat.

”Person to person transmission through direct physical contact with body fluids like blood, saliva, stool, vomitus, urine, and sweat of infected person and soiled linen used by a patient. Sharp instruments such as needles that have been used by an infected person and Non-professional handling of persons who have died of Lassa fever.

The statement highlighting the prevention of Lassa Fever said there is an effective drug for treatment if reported early to a health facility/centre.

It further called for promotion of good community hygiene in order to discourage rodents from entering home, storing grains and other food stuffs in rodent-proof containers, disposal of garbage should be far from the home.

Others are maintaining clean households and keeping cats to scare rodents away, family members should avoid contacts with blood and body fluids while caring for the sick and burial of death from Lassa fever should be done by trained persons.

Source: Source: Ghana News Agency