The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, has urged health workers across the country to strictly adhere to standard Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC) procedures while handling patients at all times and not just when Lassa fever is suspected.
Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, the Chief Executive Officer of the NCDC, gave the advice in Abuja against the backdrop of reports that four cases of Lassa fever and three deaths among health care workers in Ebonyi State were recorded early in the week.
He said health workers should also apply Rapid Diagnostic Test, RDT, to all suspected cases of malaria; adding that whenever the RDT turns out negative results, other causes of febrile illness including Lassa fever should be considered.
He said: “Health care workers in health facilities are particularly at risk of contracting the disease, especially where infection prevention and control (IPC) procedures are not strictly adhered to.
“We therefore strongly advise that health care workers practice universal care precautions while handling patients at all times, not just when Lassa fever is suspected.
“We commiserate with the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki (FETHA) and Ebonyi State Government, and will support them to avert a future occurrence.”
Dr. Ihekweazu disclosed that NCDC is already providing support to the Government of Ebonyi State, as well as investigating and responding to this cluster of cases.
“A Rapid Response Team has been immediately deployed from NCDC to support the State in response coordination, contact tracing, case management and strengthening infection prevention and control (IPC) procedures.
“The NCDC has also provided urgently required medical supplies and drugs to support case management in the State.
“Although there is no vaccine currently available for Lassa fever, the disease can be prevented. Members of the public are advised to keep their environments clean in order to discourage rats from entering homes.
“Food stuff should be stored in rodent-proof containers, garbage should be disposed properly and far from the home, and hand washing should be practiced frequently.
“Extra caution should be taken by family members who are providing care for patients with Lassa fever.”
He concluded by advising states to ensure safe burial practices for patients who die from Lassa fever.
By: Chijioke Jannah
Daily Post News
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