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Samuel Awoyinfa, Tobi Aworinde, Bukola Bakare and Joy Marcus
There is palpable fear in Ogun State over a suspected case of Lassa fever in the state.
A 20-year-old male,who was said to have travelled to Lagos and returned to Abeokuta, reportedly developed symptoms of the deadly virus and was rushed to an isolation centre in Abeokuta.
Confirming the case of Lassa fever on Friday, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Babatunde Ipaye, said the patient was responding to treatment, while 66 others who reportedly had contact with him were being monitored.
Ipaje said, “He (the patient) visited Lagos State four days before he came up with symptoms suspected to be Lassa fever. He is currently being managed in one of our isolation centres in the state and he’s positively responding to treatment.
“My appeal to our people is that they should not panic but should maintain environmental and personal hygiene at all time.”
Some residents, who spoke to one of our correspondents on Saturday, expressed anxiety over the index case of Lassa fever in the state.
A resident, Mr. Taiwo Abiodun, said when he heard the news about the case, he panicked and he had yet to get over it.
Abiodun told SUNDAY PUNCH that he had reduced his contact with people, while also avoiding handshakes and hugs.
He said, “When I heard the news of Lassa fever in Ogun, I was gripped with fear and I panicked. As a precautionary measure, I have reduced my body contact. I take the issue of hygiene seriously by making sure I wash my hands after every outing and keep my surroundings clean.”
Abiodun called on the state government to embark on rigorous sensitisation of the residents, especially in markets across the state, on the need to maintain personal hygiene and keep the markets clean to rid them of rodents.
On his part, Mr. Olufemi Adebayo explained that one could not be “too careful, because it is only God who protects.”
Another resident, Mrs Adeola Thomas, said she was more conscious of her conduct in public, watching out for people with signs of sickness, especially fever.
Thomas said, “I now try to avoid people with slight signs of fever, because no one can tell, until a test is carried out in the hospital.”
Also, Justin Egharevba said he had started avoiding crowds in places like football viewing centres, in order to have minimal contact with people.
He said, “One cannot tell a patient of Lassa fever from looks, but one can avoid contracting the disease. I have reduced going out to where I know there will be a lot of people.
“For instance, I no longer go to watch football at public viewing centres as much as before. It is just one of the precautionary measures I am taking.”
A resident, Folarin Olayinka, advised the state government to start a massive sensitisation programme on hygiene and cleanliness as a matter of priority because “prevention is better — and cheaper — than cure.”
Similarly, the case of Lassa fever in some parts of Lagos has left some residents worried.
With casualties recorded at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, including more than 100 patients still under observation, some Lagosians have resolved to do all they can to combat the scourge.
Speaking to SUNDAY PUNCH, a businessman,Mr.Yole Agbaje described the development as worrisome, due to the cosmopolitan nature of Lagos with over 17 million residents.
Agbaje said, “Although I work in Port Harcourt, my family is in Lagos and I come in every fortnight. I have two children under five years and I am particularly worried at this recent case of Lassa fever.”
He added that it was imperative to keep homes, compounds and surroundings tidy as preventive measures.
Also, another Lagos resident, Mrs. Omolola Omodara, who works with an insurance company, said, “The first thing I did when I heard about the recent case was to inspect my baby’s day care once more. Seeing that it wasn’t crowded, I decided to leave him there; otherwise, I would have withdrawn him immediately.
“A friend told me some time ago that the Lassa fever preventive vaccine was available at Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, although she said it is expensive. I plan to go for it soon.”
Another resident, Bayo Konga, asked the Federal Government not to treat the fresh cases with levity, but that it should “attack it with the same force they applied to the Ebola virus.”
He added, “I am really afraid of this Lassa fever outbreak because there is no way one can completely eradicate rodents in the house.”
Ruth Adesanya also said, “I don’t buy rat poison because I have little kids at home and they may put it in their mouths, so I opt for rat gum. I beg the Federal Government to do something to stop the spread of this virus just like they did with Ebola.”
Chidubem Akinyede, a Lagos-based linguist and mother of three, said she became anxious since reports of Lassa fever in the state.
“My biggest concern is when we go visiting my husband at work; he is a doctor at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos. Whenever we are there, we are very conscious of ourselves.”
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