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Strange disease kills health workers, patient

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By Abiodun Okunloye

Severe case of Acute Viral Hemorrhagic Fever breakout in Kaduna Army Hospital.

The Nigeria Army Referral Hospital in Kaduna (NARHK) has tragically announced the passing of three healthcare workers and a patient in just 2 days due to the sudden emergence of an unknown illness. The military announced that the three healthcare professionals were overseeing the treatment of the patient suffering from the illness at the medical facility. Brigadier General S.O. Okogie signed the memo sent to the Nigerian Army Corps headquarters in Bonny Cantonment in Victory Island in Lagos.

It is believed that their deaths were caused by a severe case of Acute Viral Hemorrhagic Fever (VHF). The situation arose after caring for a patient with a feverish illness who was initially believed to be the first patient to have contracted the disease some days ago. A memo detailed the patient’s initial symptoms of fever. The military reported that the disease showed symptoms similar to malaria and led to sudden kidney failure. The patient died from the suspected disease, which presented with symptoms such as fever and nonspecific signs resembling malaria.

Epidemiologists were summoned to probe the fever-like illness.

In addition to these common indicators, the illness also led to complications like encephalopathy, acute kidney failure, microangiopathy, abnormal liver function, and elevated D-dimer levels. The Accident and Emergency unit at the hospital was closed for disinfection, and samples from suspected contacts and the deceased were sent to the NCDC laboratory in Kano for testing. This precaution was taken in response to a potential disease outbreak to ensure the safety and well-being of staff and patients at the hospital. At the same time, epidemiologists from Kaduna State have been called upon to investigate the cause of the fever-like illness in order to limit its transmission.

Rigorous protocols for preventing and controlling infectious diseases have been mandated for implementation. Meanwhile, suspected cases and individuals identified through contact tracing are now receiving Ribavirin injections, an antiviral treatment. In order to control the situation, 44 NARHK have been instructed to stop taking new cases from the public temporarily. Improving infection prevention and control practices in all NA health facilities is crucial due to the high risk of healthcare workers contracting VHF. To effectively address outbreaks like the one currently seen at 44 NARHK with high mortality rates, prevention should be prioritised due to limited treatment options.

Strict infection control will protect hospital staff and patients.

Enhancing hospital readiness for VHF outbreaks and consistently implementing universal precautions when tending to patients can significantly reduce the spread of the disease. As a follow-up, all departments must implement rigorous infection prevention and control protocols right away to protect medical personnel and individuals receiving care at the hospital. Furthermore, Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) guidelines must be prominently displayed for all staff members to follow. Their attention and strict adherence to this directive are required. The memo also instructed commanders and commanding officers to ensure this information was shared with their respective subunits.

Acute viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF) is a severe illness caused by various viruses that spread through bodily fluids. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, muscle aches, and bleeding. Treatment involves supportive care, as there is no specific antiviral medication. Prevention is crucial in most cases as this will reduce the spread of the disease. The measures include avoiding contact with others and practising good hygiene. Outbreaks can occur globally, so awareness and precautions are essential in combating this potentially life-threatening disease.

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Controlling VHF involves strict hygiene practices, avoiding contact with infected individuals and using personal protective equipment when caring for sick patients is essential. Quarantine measures and travel restrictions may be implemented during outbreaks to prevent further transmission. Education and awareness campaigns can also inform the public about the risks of VHF and how to protect themselves. By implementing those strategies, they can work towards controlling the spread of Acute VHF and reducing its impact on communities.

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