By Stephen Adeleye.
Dr Nnabuchi Josephus, President, Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), Federal Medical Centre Lokoja, has advised doctors and other health workers to adhere strictly to universal precautions while attending to patients.
Josephus gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Lokoja.
NAN recalls that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Friday said that the current Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria had so far killed no fewer than 57 people and 275 cases confirmed in 19 states as at Feb. 3.
Josephus said that Lassa fever remains a disease that should be taken seriously with a high index of suspicion by health workers.
“Lassa fever is a viral haemorrhagic fever which was first noticed in 1950s, in a town called Lassa in present day Borno State.
“It is currently widespread in some parts of the country.’’
The doctor advised health personnel to strictly adhere to universal precautions, infection prevention and control protocols when attending to patients for their own safety.
According to him, Lassa fever has led to the death of health workers and as such all necessary precautions should be taken to save lives and prevent its spread.
The expert also urged government to scale up response by providing the necessary personal protective equipment and medications needed to care for patients.
He however commended the efforts of NCDC for setting up the Emergency Operations Centre and Rapid Response teams (RRT), saying the rate at which the centre is responding to individuals or relatives with suspected symptoms is commendable.
Also, Dr Nnanna Agwu, the General Secretary of the association, said: “Lassa fever is mainly contacted when there is a contact with urine or faeces of the ‘multimamate rat’.
“The symptoms include fever, weakness, headache, vomiting and muscle pains; mimicking other diseases such as malaria, typhoid fever, Ebola and yellow fever.’’
Agwu urged people to visit their doctors whenever such symptoms occurred as diagnosis could be a bit challenging due to varied symptoms which might be exhibited by patients.
Besides, he advised people to make sure they keep and maintain good personal hygiene and keep their homes free from rodents (rats).
He also urged people to put their foods in containers to prevent contamination with the faeces or urine of rats.