THE management of the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan has expressed worries over the increasing cases of Lassa fever in the state capital and its environs.
The coordinator of the teaching hospital’s Response Team for Outbreak of Diseases and Emergency, Olusegun Fasina, who disclosed this to reporters in Ibadan lamented that the number of patients diagnosed with Lassa fever has increased steadily in the last two months.
“Within the last two months, we have had about 80 samples suspected of hemorrhagic fever of any source. Out of the 80, we are having close to 27 being positive. That is about 35 to 40 percent. This is very high,” he said, while calling for urgent action to stem the tide.
Fasina explained that the UCH was able to diagnose the sufferers because it has state-of-the-art equipment to detect any complex cases of unresolved fever in less than 24 hours, as well as well-skilled personnel to manage the situation.
“When the blood samples of suspected cases were taken, we put them in a cooler called ‘sample boxes’ to prevent officials taking the samples for isolation from being infected. We label the cooler as ‘highly infectious’ and it is opened under proper containment. The sample is processed and within six hours we have the result.
“With that procedure that we have in UCH and the results we have got so far, we can say there is an increase in cases of Lassa fever in Ibadan, and by extension, the state.
Being a referral hospital, he said UCH only has access to cases referred to it as well as those of individuals who presented themselves after administering series of antibiotics to battle their fever-like ailments without any positive improvement.
“Judging by what we have in Ibadan, I imagine what will be happening to my people in Shaki, Sepeteri and other places in their category within the state. Hemorrhagic fever genres are easily contracted through animals, particularly the domestic ones. These people are farmers. All the bats that they say we should not eat in Ibadan are delicacy there. You say we should not eat bush meat, but they are eating rat like anything there. And that increases the risk of being infected,” the medical microbiologist noted.
Lassa is not as deadly as Ebola. Also, unlike Ebola, it has cure. But, it is highly infectious and kills too like Ebola.
Fasina, however, submitted that if the relevant authorities within the state scale up their commitment to the fight against the spread, the state would be rid of it soon.
This, according to him, becomes necessary as the limited resources available to UCH is fast depleting even as the number of cases steadily increase. While commending the effort of Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State for rising to the occasion when Ebola reared its head, Fasina challenged the Oyo State government to do more than it is doing presently to prevent the spread of the disease from going out of hand.
by Iyabo Lawal
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