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Why many Nigerian health workers are susceptible to Lassa fever

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  • Why many Nigerian health workers are susceptible to Lassa fever


    SPECIAL REPORT: Why many Nigerian health workers are susceptible to Lassa fever
    An analysis of NCDC data in the last five years shows that 197 healthcare workers contracted Lassa fever in Nigeria.
    byMariam Ileyemi
    May 14, 2024
    Reading Time: 7 mins read

    When Sale Abdullahi developed symptoms, including severe headache, nausea, fever and vomiting, on 25 February, he had a test for malaria and typhoid which came back positive.

    Mr Abdullahi, a nurse anaesthetist at the General Hospital, Kafin Madaki, in Ganjuwa Local Government Area (LGA) of Bauchi State, north-east Nigeria, was immediately placed on medications by a doctor at a private hospital, Remee Clinic and Maternity, in the Bauchi metropolis.

    After days of trying out different medications, including artemether, ceftriaxone and ciprofloxacin, Mr Abdullah’s condition deteriorated and the fever worsened while on admission at the private clinic.

    Nobody suspected it was Lassa fever until a urine analysis showed that his urine was looking bloody after which he was referred to the Lassa fever isolation centre for further lab investigation. There, he was diagnosed with Lassa fever and spent two weeks on admission.

    “I battled with Lassa fever for good 29 days in all,” he said, adding that he observed at the isolation centre that healthcare workers (HCWs) are especially susceptible due to the close contact they have with patients.

    Studies have shown that barriers to the control of Lassa fever include low index of suspicion, poor infection prevention and control (IPC) practices, lack of training on preparedness, and absence of local laboratories.

    According to experts, early and accurate laboratory diagnosis is crucial for prompt initiation of treatments and prevention of further spread of Lassa fever because its symptoms at the initial stage can be mistaken for malaria.

    The Lassa fever burden and the health system​...