Contrary to recent media reports that only one medical doctor, alongside two other health workers were infected with Lassa fever at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, investigations by THISDAY have revealed that all three infected are resident doctors from the same department, (Department of Anatomy and Molecular Pathology).
The resident doctor earlier reported in the media, was said to be the first person to be infected following the autopsy on the index case, a 32-year old pregnant woman who died of bleeding disorder following a still birth.
THISDAY also gathered that the infected doctor was initially not among those who treated the pregnant woman before she died, but the corpse was brought to the female doctor’s department where she was the key person involved in the post-mortem examination. It was after the autopsy that her Lassa fever status was eventually suspected and confirmed.
A source who spoke to THISDAY on condition of anonymity, said, “The other two resident doctors got infected from the first one after she had come down with the fever. The doctor was the first to start treatment. The other two joined after they started feeling the signs and symptoms of the hemorrhagic fever. The three doctors are all now under treatment in the surveillance unit of the hospital,” he said.
But the Director of Disease Control, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr. Eniola Eniosho, speaking with THISDAY yesterday, said the three people infected were responding to treatment, adding that they would be discharged this week following their recovery. “Their case was captured early, so they are responding well to treatment.”
He said in a few days the 100 health workers in LUTH and the 22 persons from Ikorodu (including some family members of the index case from Imota) who are under 21 days surveillance would be certified free “since none of them has so far come down with fever”. “We are very close to containing the fever. By Monday or Tuesday we will call a press conference to give updates,” he added.
Eniosho explained that Lagos State has done a proper burial for the second victim who died in LUTH, adding that his family was only informed, and that they did not participate in the burial as part of precautionary measure by the State to stop the spread of the virus.
On the status of the index case whose corpse was taken from LUTH by her family, he said, “when we confirmed her Lassa fever status, we had to inform the Epidemiology Unit in Osun State, and they have done the needful.
“The State took over her burial. Her family members who were in contact with her are among those under surveillance, and so far, none has come down with the virus,” he explained.
On the two cases who were in the surveillance unit of the Mainland Hospital, Yaba, Eniosho said their results came out negative. “We initially took that step as a standard procedure, but their results came out negative. So they don’t have Lassa fever,” he said.
The Chief Medical Director, LUTH, Prof. Chris Bode, last week said there was no need for panic as everything was under control. He said there were relevant drugs and resources to prevent an outbreak or spread of the disease within the health facility.
According to him, the State and Federal Ministry of Health had sent personnel and experts to assist with the tracing and follow-up of contacts in addition to managing suspected cases.
Prof. Bode said: “There are adequate materials for containing the disease while drugs have been made available to treat anyone confirmed with it. The Centre for Disease Control in Nigeria has also been contacted. LUTH has always worked closely with officials of the State Ministry of Health in handling a number of diseases of public concern such as rabies, cholera, Lassa fever and the recent diarrhoea disease at Queen’s College.”
He said: “Nigeria overcame the dreaded Ebola virus, a viral disease that is 100 times deadlier than Lassa fever. So there is no reason for anyone to panic. However, we are taking the treatment of the suspected cases seriously. We even brought in a psychologist to talk to them.”
Meanwhile, the 2o-year-old male patient who was under medical observation for alleged Lassa fever at the Ogun State General Hospital, Ijaiye, Abeokuta has been confirmed positive, the state government has said. He was said to have tested positive after he travelled back to the state from Lagos.
The State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Babtunde Ipaye, made this known while addressing Journalists in his office, Abeokuta, on Friday.
He said that the boy had been isolated at one of its isolation centres, Federal Medical Centre, Idi-Aba in Abeokuta. He added that 66 persons who had direct contact with the patient were presently under surveillance.
Dr. Ipaye added that the patient was responding to treatment as his temperature had reduced to 38 Degree Celsius compare to 39. 8 Degree Celsius when he was admitted.