By Christabel Addo, GNA
Accra, March 1, GNA - The Ghana Health Service (GHS), has confirmed the first record case of Lassa Fever in the country at Tema General Hospital.
Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service who was speaking to the media in Accra on Thursday, said one person has been confirmed dead from Lassa Fever.
The confirmation he said, followed a test conducted by the Noguchi Memorial Institute for medical Research.
He said currently all the frontline staff at the hospital that handled the patient before he died, were being screened, while further investigations to trace the background and all contacts of the deceased were being pursued to prevent the spread of the virus.
Dr Nsiah-Asare however dispelled the fears of the public, saying the GHS had put in place interventions to control the spread of the disease and had maintained high surveillance and issued alerts to all health institutions across the country.
He therefore advised the public not to resort to self-medication when they suspect fever or any form of illness, but to report immediately to the nearest health facility for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.
He indicated that the Health authorities would be having a meeting with WHO Officials, later in the day, to further strategise on strengthening the existing interventions to intensify the prevention of the spread of Lassa fever in Ghana.
The Director-General however reiterated an earlier appeal to the public to observe high environmental hygiene, to prevent the breeding of rodents, especially rats, who were the carriers of the virus, from entering their homes to contaminate food and other liquids, and to be extremely cautious getting into contact with their droplets and urine.
Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic fever which is endemic in West Africa, and it is transmitted by contact with infected rodents, especially rats.
It has an incubation period of about six to 21 days, with an often gradual onset with non-specific signs and symptoms, but it is commonly characterised by fever, headaches, malaise, and general weakness at the early stages and then later hearing loss.
The GHS in February 2018, issued an alert to all health facilities of the likelihood of an outbreak of Lassa fever in the country, following high confirmed records of cases and deaths in some countries in West Africa, including Nigeria.
The Service therefore recommended the enhancement of surveillance on Lassa fever and other acute haemorrhagic fevers in general using case definitions, the management of identified cases in specified isolation conditions, urged health workers to adhere to regular Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures to prevent, and to protect against possible nosocomial transmission.
They were also to take and safely package all blood samples, and send them to the Noguchi Memorial Institute for medical Research for laboratory investigations, while all National, Regional and District health facilities update their preparedness and response plans for Lassa fever and VHF in general, sensitise the respective staff and create the necessary public awareness.