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Tuesday, July 5, 2022

GHS Issues Lassa Fever Alert • Calls for Testing of Suspected Cases

Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has issued an alert over the outbreak of Lassa Fever in some countries in the West Africa sub-region including Liberia, Nigeria, and Togo.

The Service has subsequently directed health facilities nationwide to send suspected cases of Lassa Fever to the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research for investigation.

The directive, according to a statement signed by the Director General, Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, said the move has become necessary given the proximity of the affected countries, both geographically and through travel, to Ghana.

“All suspected cases of Lassa Fever should be investigated in line with protocols outlined in Ghana’s IDSR Technical Guidelines with strict adherence to infection prevention and control protocols,” it said.

The statement also raised the need for heightened surveillance to ensure the prompt identification and appropriate investigation of any suspected case.

Lassa Fever is caused by the Lassa virus transmitted from Mastomys rats to humans primarily through food or items contaminated with the rat faeces or urine.

Human-to-human transmission can also occur to a lesser extent in instances of direct contact with body fluids, blood, and secretions of infected individuals.

In line with the 3rd Edition of Ghana’s Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) Strategy, the statement said the following case definitions were to be applied in suspecting and investigating for Lassa Fever.

They were illness with gradual onset with one or more of the following – malaise, fever, headache, sore throat, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, myalgia, chest pain, hearing loss and a history of contact with excreta of rodents or with a case of Lassa Fever.

A suspected case that was laboratory confirmed (positive IgM antibody, PCR, or virus isolation) or epidemiologically linked to a laboratory confirmed case, was considered as a confirmed case of Lassa Fever, the statement said.

The statement admonished the Chief Executive Officers or leadership of the various regional health facilities to bring the directive to the notice of all relevant staff in their respective regions and facilities.

By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri

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