Minister Of Health Gives Update On Lassa Fever Outbreak

Mr Alex Segbefia, The Minister of Health, has encouraged the public not to be alarmed by the news of the confirmation of outbreak of Lassa Fever in Togo, Benin and some West African countries.

He said the Ministry of Health (MOH) has initiated the necessary measures to enhance surveillance, public awareness for prevention, early detection as well as the treatment of the disease.

Lassa fever, according to the Health Minister, is an acute viral haemorrhagic feverish illness, endemic in the West African Region. It has an incubation period between six to 21 days.

Mr Segbefia said the disease, is often gradual with no-specific signs and it symptoms.

Mr Segbefia said currently there is no cause for alarm; as the Health Ministry has not renege on its efforts to protect the people of Ghana, especially health workers.

He said the disease presents often with symptoms such as fever, general weakness, headache, sore throat, chest pain, vomiting, diarrheoa and abdominal pains, and in severe cases facial swelling and bleeding either through the nose, mouth, genitals and the gastrointestinal tract.

He said although there is a cure for this type of acute viral hemorrhagic disease, it remains deadly with a high potential of person-to-person transmission, as well as contact with food or household items that are contaminated with urine or toilet of a rodent such as rats.

He therefore entreated members of the public to desist from contacts with rodents for the prevention of infection.

Mr Segbefia who was updating the media in Accra, on the current state of the outbreak of the disease in the sub-region, said the Ministry has received information and confirmation that Benin has so far reported 71 cases of Lassa fever, out of which there has been six confirmed, 10 probable and 55 suspected ones.

The outbreak, he said has progressively been sweeping westwards and since March 15, the Togolese Health Authorities have also reported confirmed outbreak in a district called Oti, which shares boundary with Ghana.

According to him it has also been confirmed that in Togo more than 80 people have shown signs and symptoms of the disease, and due to the closeness there is the urgent need for Ghana to intensify her surveillance systems.

Mr Segbefia said the MOH has therefore directed health workers at all levels, to  take up the challenge of intensifying public awareness, education and giving regular updates on the disease.

“We further charge the leadership in the various health regions and districts to initiate processes for public awareness creation on the disease and related complications.

“Institute systems for enhanced surveillance, identify isolation facilities for case management, holding areas and strict adherence for infection prevention and control at all health facilities,” he said.

The Ministry, he said has recommended specifically that suspected cases of Lassa fever should be managed in specific isolation conditions, health workers should adhere to regular infection prevention and control measures for prevention and protection.

He directed that blood samples from suspected cases be taken to the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research for laboratory investigations.

Meanwhile the Governments of Benin and Togo as well as development partners have also initiated response measures and interventions.
The measures include field investigations, enhanced surveillance, case management, infection prevention and control, contact tracing and follow-ups, as well as social mobilisation and risk communication, to contain the situation.

He said the World Health Organisation however, does not recommend any restriction of travel and trade to Togo and Benin based on the information available on the disease outbreak.