Health alert: Lassa fever cases hit 14… one death recorded, GHS cautions public to avoid contact with rats, mice

A total of 12 addition­al cases of Lassa fever have been confirmed, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 14.

According to the Ghana Health Service (GHS), aside one death recorded, all 13 cases are alive, in stable condition and are being managed in designated health facilities.

“A total of 97 contacts have been iden­tified and efforts are underway to identify more contacts.

A probable case has been reported from the Central Region and contacts are being identified and monitored while we await confirmation. Psychological support is being provided for all cases and contacts,” a statement issued by the Director-General of the GHS, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye said.

In view of the recorded cases, the GHS has cautioned the public to avoid contacts with rodents like rats and mice.

“Ensure good environmental hy­giene and institute measures such as storing grains and other foodstuffs in rodent-proof containers, disposing of garbage far from the home, maintaining clean households and keeping cats to pre­vent rodent infestation,” the GHS urged.

Members of the public are also to avoid contact with blood and body fluids while caring for sick persons.

“The Ghana Health Service wishes to remind the public of the need to report to the nearest health facility when unwell.

“We want to assure the public that, we will continue to work with our partners to ensure the safety of the entire popula­tion,” the Service assured.

It would be recalled that in May last year, the GHS directed all healthcare facil­ities across the country to be on high alert for suspected cases of Lassa fever.

It followed reports of cases in some West African countries including Liberia, Togo and Nigeria.

The acute viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus, is a zoonotic disease, transmitted to humans through contact with food or household items contaminated with faeces of rodents like rats, mice etc.

Lassa virus may also be spread between humans through direct contact with the blood, urine, faeces or other bodily fluids of a person infected with Lassa fever.

Sexual transmission of Lassa virus may also occur.

Having an incubation period of two to 21 days, the early symptoms of Lassa fever may include fever and general weakness.

Individuals may later present with headache, sore throat, muscle pain, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, cough and abdominal pain.

In severe cases, there may be bleeding from the mouth, nose, vagina or stomach.

Death usually occurs within 14 days of onset in fatal eases.

Early use of Ribavarine (within seven days of disease onset), supportive care with re-hydration and symptomatic treat­ment improves survival, however, there is no effective vaccine for the disease at the moment.

Ghana confirmed its first two laborato­ry cases of Lassa fever from the Ashanti Region in October and December, 2011.


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