Intensify Lassa fever sensitisation
The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has confirmed two cases of Lassa fever nine months since the last week of May 2022 when it directed all healthcare facilities across the country to be on the alert for suspected cases of Lassa fever because of reports of the outbreak of the disease in some West African countries, including Liberia, Togo and Nigeria.
The GHS received the notification of the two current cases from the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research on February 24, 2023 and that both cases reside in Accra. (See story on page …)
Unfortunately, one of the patients has died and the other is on admission.
We pray that the living patient will recover from the disease soon because medical records show that not all cases of Lassa fever result in fatalities.
It is said that about 80 per cent of Lassa fever infections are mild or asymptomatic and that the death toll averages one per cent.
In spite of this, we can imagine that in absolute terms, one per cent can translate into heartbreaking figures relative to the numbers of infections at a particular time.
Therefore, the lesson we should associate with the Lassa fever is that it can kill and even just a life lost to it is one too many once that death could have been prevented.
To this end, there is the need to listen to health professionals and authorities, particularly the GHS, and adhere to their advice to safeguard one’s own life.
Lassa fever is said to be a zoonotic disease, meaning that humans become infected from contact with infected animals carrying the Lassa virus, particularly rodents like rats, and afterwards, patients can infect other humans.
This can happen through contact with bodily fluids, blood tissue secretions or excretions.
Interestingly, the rats infected with the Lassa virus do not become ill, but they can shed the virus in their urine and faeces.
This is a good piece of information for those who love eating Mastomys rodents, as they can contract the disease through direct contact with the animals’ droppings and urine by touching contaminated objects, eating contaminated food or through contact with their open sores.
Lassa may also be spread through human-to-human contact.
Named after Lassa, the town in Nigeria where the first cases of the acute viral haemorrhagic illness were identified, the disease is now described as being endemic in Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Ghana.
For a disease to be endemic in a country means that its outbreak is consistently present there but limited to a particular region.
We are worried about the story of our country because it first recorded two cases of the disease in 2011 in Manso-Nkwanta in the Amansie West District of the Ashanti Region both of whom died, and had two imported cases from Liberia in 2013 involving two Ghanaian peacekeeper soldiers one of whom died.
A media source also claims a death from the disease was recorded in Tema in 2018.
Today, the two cases are from Accra in the Greater Accra Region just as Tema is.
We need to contain it before it spreads to other regions.
As usual, the GHS is doing its best to contain the disease, so the public should also play its role by adhering to the medical advice like promoting community hygiene to discourage rodents from entering people’s homes.