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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Government orders probe into the deaths of four individuals at Army hospital

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The Kaduna State Government has ordered an immediate investigation into the deaths of three health workers and one patient at the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital Kaduna (44 NARHK).

According to a statement Thursday by Governor Uba Sani‘s spokesperson, Mohammed Shehu, the fatalities were recorded from a suspected outbreak of Lassa fever at the Army hospital, adding that three other patients with similar symptoms are currently being managed.

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Meanwhile, the army medical authorities in an earlier statement linked the symptoms to what it described as acute Viral Hemorrhagic Fever (VHF), noting that samples were sent to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) laboratory in Kano for analysis.

According to the medical authority, the deceased workers were said to be attached to the hospital’s Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department where a non-military patient was said to have earlier presented with similar symptoms before eventually dying at the facility.

However, the state government confirmed that “all Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures have been instituted at the facility while it remains closed to the public until full containment has been achieved.”

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About VHF

VHFs are a group of diseases that are caused by several distinct families of viruses. In Nigeria, VHFs of concern include Lassa fever, Ebola, Dengue fever, and Yellow fever.

The common symptoms in those affected, according to the statement included fever, and nonspecific symptoms likened to malaria. It added that the illness was complicated by abnormal liver function, and acute kidney failure, among others.

Response

The Kaduna government further noted that its health ministry has further been directed to enhance surveillance across the state in collaboration with local government health departments.

“Consequently, a surveillance team was promptly mobilised to assess the situation and containment measures were initiated alongside the hospital management,” the statement reads in part.

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“The Kaduna State Ministry of Health and management of 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, are working assiduously to contain the situation as all those who came in contact with those infected have been identified and are closely monitored while receiving urgent medical treatment.”

Disease prevention, control

As part of its IPC measures, the military authorities said the state’s epidemiologists have been invited to help in unravelling the cause of the febrile illness, adding that ribavirin injection (antiviral agent) has also been commenced on other suspected cases and those identified on contact tracing.

“44 NARHK have also been directed to suspend accepting new cases from the general public in the interim while the situation is being contained,” the army authority noted in the statement.

It emphasised the need to strengthen IPC practices across all Nigerian Army health facilities, adding that “prevention remains the best approach in dealing with such outbreaks since treatment options are limited.”

It also advised that all units put in place strict IPC measures immediately to safeguard hospital staff and patients.

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