Over 60 people have been placed under surveillance in Rivers State, following the outbreak of Lassa fever in the state.
A nursing mother and her two-week-old baby were said to have died on December 30, last year, and January 1, from the contagious disease.
Health Commissioner Dr. Theophilous Adangbe told reporters yesterday in Port Harcourt, the state capital, that 12 medical officers, who attended to the victims at a public health centre had been placed under observation.
He added: “We have placed the health personnel, who attended to the woman and her baby, who died last week, under surveillance. We have also placed some secondary contacts – those who had contacts with the deceased during the naming ceremony of the baby, who died two days after the death of the mother – under surveillance.
“Over 12 of the workers at the primary health care centre, who managed and attended to the mother and the baby, have been placed under surveillance. The husband of the deceased woman has been asked to draw up a list of those who attended the naming ceremony of the baby and had contact with the mother and child.
“The list from the husband of the deceased woman is also being generated and that will be over 50. We already have some of them under observation. We are searching for all those who have had secondary contacts with the health personnel, including family members and friends who had primary and secondary contacts with the victims.”
Agamgbe said the primary health centre, where the victims were admitted, had been decontaminated, adding: “The victims have already been buried, in keeping with the principles of managing the bodies of those who died from Lassa fever and other haemorrhage diseases.
“For now, we do not have any symptomatic case. What we are doing is to check the temperatures of those currently under observation. Any of them who develops the symptoms of Lassa fever will be immediately quarantined.”
Also, the Lagos State Ministry of Health has urged the residents to contact its Directorate of Disease Control on 08037170614, 08023169485 should there be any suspected case of Lassa fever in their neighbourhoods.
In a statement in Ikeja, the state capital, the ministry appealed to the residents to avoid contact between rats and human beings, observe good personal hygiene, including hand-washing with soap and running water regularly.
The ministry also advised the people to dispose of waste properly and clean the environment so that rats are not attracted, store foods in rat-proof containers and cook all foods thoroughly before eating.
It urged Lagosians to discourage rodents from entering their homes by blocking possible entry points.
To food manufacturers and handlers, the health ministry urged them to avoid spreading edibles where rats could have access to same; the public was advised to report any case of the above symptoms or persistent high fever, which resists the treatment for malaria and typhoid fever, to the nearest health centre.
It added that all fluids from an infected person are extremely dangerous.
Health workers are also advised to be on alert, wear personal protective equipment, observe universal basic precautions, nurse suspected cases in isolation and report same to the local government area or the Ministry of Health immediately.
According to the statement, early symptoms of the disease, which occur within three weeks of contacting the virus, include fever, headache, chills, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, sore throat, backache, and joint pains.
Late symptoms include bleeding from the eyes, ears and nose; bleeding from the mouth and rectum, eye swelling, swelling of the genitals and rashes all over the body – which often contain blood.
It could progress to coma, shock and death, the ministry warned.