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Fears as Guinea confirms Lassa Fever

Health authorities in neighboring Guinea have confirmed a case of Lassa fever, in what seems a jaw-dropping news for Liberia given the story surrounding the spillover of Ebola here following its outbreak in Guinea in December 2013.

A news release published in French indicates that health authorities of Guinea’s Ministry of Health were informed by the Mamou Prefectural Health Directorate that a case of Lassa fever had been detected.

It involved a 35-year-old man from Kissidougou Prefecture who was admitted to the Mamou Regional Hospital on 28 January 2019.

The blood test result of suspect confirmed the presence of Lassa haemorrhagic fever, according to Guinean authorities.

At least no other case has been notified for the moment.

Liberia shares porous borders with Guinea and cross border trade continues even in times of crisis which appear to have contributed immensely to the spread of Ebola here in 2014.

In relation to the case of Ebola, it could be recalled that on 26 December 2013, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), a 2-year-old boy in the remote Guinean village of Meliandou fell ill with a mysterious illness characterized by fever, black stools, and vomiting and died two days later.

WHO had indicated that its retrospective case-finding later identified that child as West Africa’s first case of Ebola virus disease.

More than three months after that end-December death, WHO had reported that Ebola was nowhere on the radar screen of suspects for mysterious deaths in West Africa.

But it subsequently spoke of re-introductions of the virus into Guinea – with its notoriously porous borders – from the large outbreaks in neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone.

More than 11,000 were reported to have died from Ebola in five West African countries and the US.

Meanwhile following report of the Lassa fever detection in Guinean, health authorities in that country say a crisis meeting was held on the premises of the National Health Security Agency (ANSS) on 2 February 2019 in accordance with the International Health Regulations (IHR).

This meeting, according to the new release, brought together, in addition to officials from the Ministry of Health, Livestock and Environment, many partners.

At the end of this meeting, it was decided to send an on-site investigation mission to support the health teams of Mamou and Kissidougou prefectures in their efforts to control this disease.

Lassa fever is a viral haemorrhagic disease transmitted by rodents (small mice) to humans through body fluids (blood, urine and saddle).

It manifests itself in the main signs that include fever, chest pain, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, joint pain and in its most severe form by bleeding.

The Guinean authorities have warned that anyone with these signs especially those from Mamou and Kissidougou prefectures should go to the nearest health facility.

Other measures announced include washing hands regularly; washing all cooking utensils with clean water and soap and keeping them safe from rodents; and removing from the dwellings, garbage of all kinds, among others.

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