Ghana Health Service is on high alert following confirmation by Nigeria that there has been an outbreak of the deadly Lassa Fever in 18 States, with over 300 cases and at least 31 deaths. According to an intercepted release from the GHS Director, Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, to all Divisional Directors, Regional Deputy Directors of the Service and public health care facilities, “the outbreak [in Nigeria] has been on-going for the past six weeks and has necessitated urgent spontaneous national response actions among all neighboring countries.”
Lassa fever belongs to the same family as Marburg and Ebola, two deadly viruses that lead to infections with fever, vomiting and in worst-case scenarios, hemorrhagic bleeding. Already in Ivory Coast, Health and Public Hygiene Minister Raymonde Goudou Coffie has told reporters that the country had stepped up vigilance “in light of the… situation in affected countries and the flow of (travellers) among the nations of the sub-region.” Coffie said last week that no cases of the disease had been registered locally, but warned of a potential risk from countries where it is endemic, such as Nigeria and Benin, as well as neighboring Guinea.
There is currently no effective vaccine for the disease. Ghana Health Service has, meanwhile, ordered its officers to surveillance on Lassa fever and Acute Hemorrhagic Fevers in general (using case definitions) should be enhanced. Lassa fever is an Acute Viral Hemorrhagic 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, diarrhea and abdominal pain may follow.
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