The Ghana Health Service has issued a guideline to all Health delivery posts to be on the lookout for Lassa fever.
This follows the fact that the Ministry of Health of Nigeria has confirmed and subsequently declared Lassa fever outbreak which has affected about 18 states with over 300 cases and 31 deaths.
The outbreak has been on-going for the past six weeks and has necessitated urgent spontaneous national response actions among all neighbouring countries. Lassa fever outbreak has been recurrent in Nigeria and the current outbreak has affected health workers in some states.
The GHS write therefore says: “we respectfully request the Regional Directors of Health Services and CEOs of Teaching Hospitals to ensure this Alert Message reaches all health workers in the respective Regions, Districts and Hospitals, including the Mission and Private Facilities. We further request the Regional Directors of Health Services to initiate the process to create public awareness on Lassa Fever. We recommend the following to all health workers and institutions:
1. Surveillance on Lassa fever and Acute Haemorrhagic Fevers in general (using case definitions) should be enhanced.
2. Suspected cases of Lassa fever should be managed in specific isolation conditions
3. Health workers should adhere to regular Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures to prevent and protect against possible nosocomial transmission
4. Blood sample from suspected case(s) should be taken and safely packaged and sent to Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) for laboratory investigations
5. All levels (National, Regions, Districts and Facilities) are requested to update their preparedness and response plans for Lassa fever and VHF in general, sensitize the respective staff and create necessary public awareness.
6. Attached are general information on Lassa fever
What you should know about Lassa Fever
Lassa fever is an Acute Viral Haemorrhagic Fever illness which is endemic in West Africa.
The incubation period is 621 days. The onset of LF illness is often gradual, with non-symptoms and commonly presents with fever, general weakness and specific signs 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 (MultiPersontomammate rat). The disease is endemic in the rodent population in parts of West Africa and the multi as a reservoir for the virus. Lassa fever is known to be mammate rat serve endemic in Benin, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone and parts of Nigeria, but probably exists in other West African countries as well.
Person to person infections and laboratory transmission can also occur particularly in hospitals lacking adequate infection prevention and control measures
Ghana recorded first confirmed case(s) in 2011 and two districts, one each in Ashanti and Eastern regions then confirm ed outbreaks of Lassa fever.
Early use of Ribavirin (within seven days of disease onset), supportive care with symptomatic treatment improves survival.
There is no effective vaccine for the disease at the moment.