Health Authorities Respond to Lassa Fever Outbreak

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The National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MoH) has responded to the Lassa fever outbreak in the country.

According to a release issued in Monrovia, cases of Lassa fever are on the increase in the Lassa belt (Bong, Nimba, and Grand Bassa Counties).

Four new confirmed cases have been reported: from Bong (2), Grand Bassa (1) and Nimba (1) since the last outbreak in May, 2018. A blood specimen was collected and tested positive for Lassa fever on 4th-7th June 2018, at the National Public Health Reference Laboratory (NPHRL). The recent case from Nimba County was confirmed by the NPHRL on June 7.

A total of 128 contacts, including 59 healthcare workers, have been line-listed and are being followed up. One case is currently undergoing treatment at Phebe Hospital in Gbarnga Bong County, while one has been discharged. Two deaths have been reported in this recent outbreak.

Since the beginning of January, a total of 112 suspected cases have been reported across the country. Eighteen have been confirmed positive by RT-PCR (Nimba-7, Montserrado-3, Bong-4 Margibi-2, and Grand Bassa-2. The case fatality rate among confirmed cases is 72.2 percent (13/18). The high death rate is alarming to NPHIL and has launched an in-depth investigation.

The release also discloses that although Lassa fever is not new to Liberia, it is a deadly viral disease that requires urgent attention. The disease is spread by rodents (rats)  through close contact with affected persons.

People are advised to keep their environment clean: cover your dishes to prevent rats pu-puing or pee-peeing on them; cover food in tightly closed containers to prevent rats from playing in food or drinking water; do not eat rats because you can get the sickness by coming into contact with their blood, pee-pee or pu-pu and not to dry food in open places where rats can reach.

Other preventive measures are to avoid body contact with affected persons and endemic zone and visit a health facility immediately when one feels sick.

Meanwhile, NPHIL, MOH, and partners have appealed to the general public to take the necessary preventive measures, and to kindly report cases of fever to the nearest health facility.

“We continue to improve our rapid response at the county, district and community levels through the County Emergency Operation Centers, and to provide technical, financial and logistical support to the outbreaks, the release concluded.

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