Lassa Fever: Army Allays Fears After Death of 3 Medical Staff, 1 Patient

Following the death of four persons comprising a patient and three medical staff, at the Nigerian Army Reference Hospital as a result of Lassa fever, the Army has said there is no need for panic among other military and civilian patients in the hospital.

“While the suspected index patient was managed, but subsequently died two weeks ago in the hospital, three medical staff of the hospital that had direct contact with the suspected index case have also died within the past 48 hours.

A statement by the Director of Army Public Relations, Major General Onyema Nwachukwu, said, “The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to public concern and apprehension resulting from a leaked correspondence by its medical experts over a suspected outbreak of what presents as Viral Hemorrhagic disease, aka Lassa fever, in one of its medical facilities in Kaduna State.

“While it is yet unclear what we are actually dealing with, the Nigerian Army wishes to confirm that there was indeed some suspicion of what presented as acute Viral Hemorrhagic disease in the Accident and Emergency Unit of the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Kaduna (NARHK), which has resulted in the death of a couple of its medical staff serving in the hospital.

“In line with best practice in managing such a situation, contact tracing to what is believed to be the index case has been made to a non-military patient who was referred to 44 NARHK from a peripheral medical facility.

“The suspected index patient was managed but subsequently died two weeks ago in the hospital.

“Sadly, three medical staff of the hospital that had direct contact with the suspected index case have also died within the past 48 hours.

“In response to the suspected outbreak, directives have been passed that Prevention Control (IPC) measures in and around all military health care facilities in Kaduna be stepped up as part of measures to curtail further spread and loss of lives.

“In this wise, all medical staff of the hospital, their family members, and other patients on the contact tracing list have commenced appropriate management, and so far nothing of concern has been observed.

“Furthermore, the entire hospital facility has been disinfected, while immediate closure and evacuation of the Accident and Emergency ward of the 44 NARHK has been ordered to allow for thorough fumigation, decontamination, and emplacement of other measures of Infection Prevention Control (IPC).

“As a responsive and responsible organization, the Nigerian Army has also escalated the development to other relevant national and state agencies.

“As of the time of this statement, samples have been taken from suspected contacts and the deceased and sent to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) laboratory in Kano for analysis.

“Similarly, the Kaduna state epidemiologists have been invited to help in unraveling the unfolding development.

“It is imperative to point out, that the Nigerian Army, as part of its civil-military relations welfare scheme offers medical services to civilians in its host communities.

“Thus, about 500 civilians receive medical attention weekly at 44NARHK.

“This unfortunate development is only a setback in our efforts to give back to the society and will not stop the Nigerian Army from continuing this moral obligation to the host communities.

“As of now, all Nigerian Army medical facilities in Kaduna and environs have been put at alert on the need to emplace necessary IPC measures and closely monitor patients, staff and family members.

“The Nigerian Army urges members of the general public to not panic, as adequate measures have already been put in place to contain the suspected outbreak.

“It equally assures that its collaboration with all relevant stakeholders is open, transparent and in tandem with international best practice.”