Last week, we reported on the Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria where more than 100 cases have been reported since the beginning of the year.
This prompted the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to issue an advisory Saturday for health workers. Here is a snippet of that advisory:
To reduce the spread of Lassa fever in the country, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) advices that standard precautionary measures should be taken by healthcare workers and offers the following advice:
• Maintain a high index of suspicion for Lassa fever.
• All cases of fever must be tested for malaria using appropriate diagnostic tools e.g. rapid diagnostic kit (RDT). If the result is negative and other common causes of fever are ruled out, healthcare workers should suspect Lassa fever.
• Isolate all suspected cases of Lassa fever and contact the appropriate authorities (LGA Disease Surveillance and Notification Officer (DSNO) or State Epidemiologists.
Health care workers are strongly advised to always practice universal standard care precautions when caring for patients, regardless of their presumed diagnosis. Health-care workers seeing a patient suspected to have Lassa fever should immediately arrange for laboratory testing and report to the Local Government disease surveillance and notification officers (DSNOs).
It is important to note the following while caring for Lassa Fever patients:
• Limit the number of health facility staff and visitors in the patient’s room.
• Ensure proper wearing and removal of full personal protective equipment (face masks, hand gloves, gowns, and goggles) before and after entering the patient’s room.
• Wash hands with soap under running water always.
• Limit invasive procedures and use of injectable medications.
• Appropriate disposal and disinfection of items used by Lassa fever patients such as syringes, thermometers, beddings, clothing, cups, plates, spoons, etc.
• Observe safe disposal of injectables and other sharp items.
• The diagnosis of Lassa fever should be suspected in febrile patients returning from areas where Lassa fever is endemic or when common causes of fever such as malaria have been ruled out.
• Samples taken from suspected patients for investigation of Lassa virus infection should be safely handled by trained staff and transported promptly to approved laboratories.