When the UK media was the alight on the 23rd of January on the case of Lassa Fever in a patient who had returned from Nigeria, we highlighted in our blog then…if there is an importation into the UK…there must be a significant outbreak in Nigeria!…it seemed obvious.
…and it was!
We have also asked severally….if there was an outbreak, as there is now…who will respond to the public health threat in the absence of a national centre for infectious disease control?
…and we also have an answer for you! The Chief Medical Director of the National Hospital, Abuja (NHA), Dr Olusegun Ajuwon, is reported by the Leadership Newspaper to have confirmed the outbreak of Lassa fever in Abuja and the adjoining Nasarawa State! The report also states that Dr Ogugua Osi-Ogbu, Consultant Physician and co-ordinator of the Lassa Fever Infection Control at the National Hospital, told NAN that: “The outbreak usually occurs between January and April because of bush burning”. …”The rodents run out of the bush and move to houses within the area” Literature says that it is transmitted only through body fluids, but we are beginning to see from our staff who are contaminated (sic) that it could be air-borne as well,” Osi-Ogbu said.
If this is the case, then apart from controlling the outbreak…my colleague is in fact on the verge of a major breakthrough, he is potentially on the verge of the Nobel Prize and we must all be afraid!….very afraid!
Can you really imagine the possible consequences of airborne transmission of any of the viral haemorrhagic fevers?
If there is no hard evidence to support this then it is an extremely irresponsible statement to be making! Extremely….
We conclude today as we concluded then…
…while we invest considerable resources in the apparent modernisation of our teaching hospitals we need to remember the not so glamorous infectious diseases.
Surveillance, outbreak investigation and control are public health functions representing the first link in a chain of activities aimed at countering the threat of infectious viral and bacterial agents.
Nigeria needs a Centre for Infectious Disease Control, adequately staffed, equipped and resourced or we will pay a price. This is not a problem that the odd clinician at our National Hospital nor a Ministerial task force can solve…
We need one desperately! As it is now…we do not know how big the outbreak of Lassa is, we do not know who is infected, how many have died, how quickly it is spreading, to whom,
….and most of all, a clinican, even at the National Hospital in Abuja…cannot answer these questions. It is like asking a dentist remove your prostrate!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead