Ghana has recently experienced a significant outbreak of Lassa Fever, a severe and often fatal hemorrhagic illness caused by the Lassa virus. This report provides an extensive analysis of the outbreak and the efforts taken by the government and health authorities to manage and contain the spread of the disease.
On February 24, 2023, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) confirmed two cases of Lassa Fever in the Greater Accra Region, bringing the total number of cases to 27. The Director General of the GHS, Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, released a statement detailing the situation following the lapse of the 42-day maximum follow-up period recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO), since the last confirmed case was discharged on March 10, 2023.
The first confirmed case was a female trader residing in Accra. She was admitted to Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) with symptoms of difficulty in breathing and general rashes, as well as bloody stools. Unfortunately, the patient passed away within five hours of admission. The second confirmed case was a female healthcare worker who had come into contact with the first case. She was treated and subsequently discharged from the Ghana Infectious Disease Centre (GIDC). The last confirmed case was also managed at the GIDC and discharged on March 10, 2023.
In response to the outbreak, the National Public Health Emergency Operations Centre (PHEOC) was activated to coordinate response activities and provide direction. Additionally, the Greater Accra Regional and District Public Health Emergency Management Committees (PHEMCs) were activated to coordinate the response at regional and district levels.
Public Health Advisory:
The GHS has issued a public advisory encouraging individuals to reduce the risk of disease transmission from wildlife, particularly rats, to humans. The advisory recommends storing leftover food properly, maintaining cleanliness in homes and kitchens, and avoiding direct or close contact with persons suspected of having Lassa Fever or any other infectious disease.
The statement also urges the public to practice regular hand washing after visiting patients in health facilities, before eating, and after using the toilet to prevent infections. Health workers are also advised to strictly adhere to universal infection prevention and control measures, including wearing gloves and other appropriate personal protective equipment while caring for patients.
The GHS is working in collaboration with local government authorities and the Wildlife Division to depopulate rats in marketplaces to prevent future Lassa Fever outbreaks. The government of Ghana and its development partners, through the Ministry of Health (MoH), are supporting the GHS and other MoH agencies in building a resilient health system capable of withstanding future outbreaks.
The public is urged to report to the nearest health facility promptly if they feel unwell for proper medical attention. The GHS and other relevant authorities are working tirelessly to ensure the containment of the Lassa Fever outbreak and to strengthen the health system’s ability to manage and prevent future outbreaks.