LASSA FEVER - WEST AFRICA (33): LIBERIA
Posted on 16TH JUN 2018
tagged Lassa Fever, West Africa; Liberia
Date: Wed 13 Jun 2018
Source: Daily Observer [edited]
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).
In the country, 4 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 4-7 Jun 2018 at the National Public Health Reference Laboratory (NPHRL). The recent case from Nimba County was confirmed by the NPHRL on 7 Jun .
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; 2 deaths have been reported in this recent outbreak.
Since the beginning of January 2018, a total of 112 suspected cases have been reported across the country, of which 18 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, which 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 [or contaminated environments - Mod.TY].
People are advised to keep their environment clean: cover dishes to prevent rats from defecating or urinating 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, urine or feces, and do not dry food in open places where rats can reach.
Other preventive measures are to avoid body contact with affected persons and endemic zones; visit a health facility immediately when you feel 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.
ProMED-mail from HealthMap Alerts
[The number of confirmed Lassa fever cases in Liberia has increased somewhat since 1 Jun 2018, from 13 to 18 cases.
Lassa fever virus can be acquired from infected rodents or patients in the hospital. In the above report, there is no mention of Lassa fever virus nosocomial transmission. The situation where these people acquired Lassa fever virus is not indicated in these cases.
Virus transmission to humans occurs when people are in contact with the reservoir rodent host, the multimammate mouse (_Mastomys natalensis_ and _M. erythroleucus_) and the African wood mouse (_Hylomycus pamfi_) or their excreta, as was likely the situation in these cases. Rodent control has to be undertaken at the village level with individual households employing the preventive measures listed above. This requires an extensive and continuous public education effort. Transmission can occur in health facilities when personal protective equipment is not employed and barrier-nursing practices are not adequate to protect staff from blood and secretions of infected patients.
Images of the _Mastomys natalensis_ mouse, the rodent reservoir of Lassa fever virus, can be seen at https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/45326-Mastomys-natalensis and _M. erythroleucus_ and _Hylomycus pamfi_ at: http://punchng.com/nigerias-large-rat-population-threatens-lassa-fever-war/. - Mod.TY
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