NPHIL Responds To Lassa Fever Outbreak; Says There’s No Ebola in Liberia
Monrovia – The National Public Health of Liberia (NPHIL) has been responding to Lassa fever outbreak in the country. According to a release issued in Monrovia, cases of Lassa fever have been on the increase in the Lassa belt in Liberia.
The release further indicates that the outbreak is occurring in Bong, Margibi, Nimba and Montserrado counties. Since the beginning of January 2018, a total of 81 suspected Lassa cases, including 22 deaths have been reported across the country. Out of the 81 suspected cases, eleven (11) have been confirmed, 4 in Nimba, Montserrado 3, Margibi 2, Bong 1 and Grand Bassa 1. Sixty-seven (67) tested negative for Lassa fever.
The case fatality rate among confirmed cases is 91% (10/11). Females constitute 70% (8/11). The age range among confirmed cases is 1 to 57 years old with a median age of 32 years. The high death rate can be attributed to sick people coming to health facilities late, after onset of symptoms.
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 or rats and through close contact with affected persons.
People are advised to take the following public health measures:
Meanwhile, NPHIL, MOH and Partners are pleased with the level of preparedness. Rapid response teams at county, district and community levels are operating through the County Emergency Operation Centers (EOCs). Recent high-level visits by NPHIL, MOH, WHO and U.S. CDC to 8 out of 15 counties, to assess surveillance and preparedness in response activities, show vigilance of county surveillance teams. The high-level supervisory visits continue to Gbarpolu, Cape Mount and Bomi, tomorrow, May 16th.
In a related development, health authorities and partners in Liberia are closely monitoring the Ebola situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). As of May 14, 2018, there were 39 reported cases, of which 2 are confirmed, 25 are probable and 12 suspected. Nineteen (19) of the cases have died. Three (3) health workers are among the suspected cases, while 1 health worker has died. This outbreak has not yet been declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by WHO. However, it is very important for the public to comply with universal infection prevention and control (IPC) precautionary measures, including regular hand washing. Health workers are especially advised to employ universal IPC at all times.
According to Director General Tolbert Nyenswah, “the arduous task of preventing, detecting and rapidly responding to public health threats of both local and international concern, will continue to be the hallmark of the Government of Liberia through NPHIL and MoH, which aim to improve the healthcare delivery system of Liberia. The public is cautioned not to panic.”
NPHIL is committed to supporting the Government’s Change for Hope, Pro-Poor Agenda. Pillar One, of this Agenda, emphasizes power to the people. Health and Sanitation are integral parts of the Government’s Pro-Poor Agenda. DG Nyenswah said that “keeping the population of Liberia safe from diseases that pose public health threats and have the propensity to disrupt socio-economic activities, contribute to the Government’s human development initiatives.” He added, “all hands are on deck to ensure county health and surveillance systems are heightening to detect and respond to outbreaks, robustly.