A case of the deadly Lassa fever has been detected at the Federal Medical Centre, Owo, Ondo State.
It was gathered that the victim who came from Edo State went to the FMC to treat malaria fever but after a blood test it was discovered the victim had contacted the deadly disease.
However, the state government said it was proactive about the case by transferring the victim back to Edo State where he came from.
This is coming just as the Redeemer’s University, Ede, Osun State, has raised the hope of developing vaccine for Lassa fever by its researchers at the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases located on its campus.
The Ondo State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Dayo Adeyanju, who confirmed the development, added that there was no cause for alarm as the government had already taken necessary steps to prevent the spread of the disease.
He said, “It is expected, we have already said it, that is why we are proactive about it to ensure that if anybody has symptom and sign of Lassa fever, we will be able to quickly detect and then curtail it.
“Also, there would be active surveillance, where we look around to see if anybody has been infected. Already contact tracing has begun on this one.”
Adeyanju explained that the case was a suspected case at the FMC, Owo, saying the victim had fever and other symptoms that suggested that it was a Lassa fever case.
The commissioner said the doctor took the blood sample of the victim and referred it to Irrua Specialists’ Hospital in Edo State, noting that it was the hospital that diagnosed and confirmed it.
The commissioner, who expressed assurance that the disease would not spread in the state, also confirmed that the victim had been transferred to Irrua Specialists’ Hospital for adequate treatment.
The RUN’s Deputy Director of the ACEGID, Dr. Folarin Onikepe, while speaking on the telephone with one of our correspondents in Osogbo on Wednesday, said the centre was working round the clock to develop the vaccine which would stop the deaths usually recorded anytime there was an outbreak of Lassa fever in the country.
Onikepe, who is also a senior lecturer at the university, added that some of the major breakthroughs by the ACEGID, on Lassa fever was the development of a rapid diagnostic test kit for the virus.
She explained that with the test kit, Lassa fever could be diagnosed in 10 minutes, saying this would reduce the chances of death by victims of the virus.
She said, “That is one of the things we are working on to be able to identify vaccine candidates that can now be used to develop vaccine for Lassa fever.
“That is why our genomics study is looking at the susceptibility and otherwise of some people to the virus. We know that some people are exposed to the virus and they don’t fall sick while others fall sick.
“One of our studies is to know what makes them different. What are their genomic features like? Once we identify all of these, they will be used together with other materials as vaccine. We hope to identity more than one and that is why we call them candidates.
“I can say we have gone far on the development of the vaccine but we still have a lot to do before we can say we very are close to it. So far, we have been able to identify some but we are looking at their potency and soon we will come up with the vaccine and this will stop the number of deaths recorded yearly due to Lassa fever virus.”