Ninety-two persons are being monitored by the Ghana Health Service for signs of Lassa fever after having physical contact with the victim of the first case of the disease detected in Ghana.
According to Dr John Yabani, the Tema Metropolitan Health Director, who disclosed this to Ghana News Agency, the 92 comprised of health workers of the Tema General Hospital who worked on the patient, his friends, family and others,
Dr Yabani indicated that the 92 were identified through the retracing of the victim’s path at Ashaiman, Nmai-Dzor and Tema.
He said they were being monitored for 21 days for symptoms of the disease, early detection and treatment in case any of them had been infected, adding that they were at different days of monitoring depending on when they had the contact with the patient.
He further assured that all those being monitored are currently healthy and have no symptoms of the disease and appealed to the public to immediately report to any health institution when they have a fever of 37.5 degrees Celsius, vomiting of blood, among others for appropriate tests and care.
The victim who was admitted at the Tema General Hospital on February 23 died on admission on February 28.
About Lassa Fever
According to the GHS, Lassa fever is an Acute Viral Haemorrhagic Fever illness which is endemic in West Africa. The incubation period is 6-21 days.
The onset of LF illness is often gradual, with non-specific signs and symptoms and commonly presents with fever, general weakness and malaise at the early onset. After a few days, headache, sore throat, muscle pain, chest pain, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain may follow.
Severe cases may progress to show facial swelling, and bleeding tendencies (from the mouth, nose, vagina or gastrointestinal tract, and low blood pressure. Shock, seizures, disorientation, and coma may be seen in the late stages. Complications include: deafness, transient hair loss and gait disturbance may occur during recovery. About 80 % of Lassa Fever infections are mild or asymptomatic.
• Lassa fever virus is transmitted to humans via contact with food or household items contaminated with the urine, saliva faeces, and blood of the rodent (Multi-mammate rat).
• Person-to-person infections and laboratory transmission can also occur, particularly in hospitals lacking adequate infection prevent and control measures.
• The disease is endemic in the rodent population in parts of West Africa and the multi-mammate rat serve as reservoir for the virus.
• Lassa fever is known to be endemic in Benin, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone and parts of Nigeria, but probably exists in other West African countries as well.
• Ghana recorded first confirmed case(s) in 2011 and two districts, one each in Ashanti and Eastern regions then confirmed outbreaks of Lassa fever.
• Early use of Ribavarine (within seven days of disease onset), supportive care with re-hydration and symptomatic treatment improves survival.
• There is no effective vaccine for the disease at the moment.