Accessibility to laboratory diagnosis of lassa fever in nigeria: a possible threat to the control of infectious diseases

Mathew Folaranmi Olaniyan and AfolabiTemitayo

Lassa fever caused by lassa virus is anhaemorragic infectious disease with limited access to diagnostic facilities in Nigeria. Lassa virus infections can only be diagnosed definitively in the laboratory using the following tests: reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay- gold standard, antibody enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), antigen detection tests and virus isolation by cell culture. Cases of this infectious disease have been reported in 24 of the 36 States in Nigeria. Currently, two national laboratories are supporting the laboratory confirmation of Lassa fever cases by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. All the samples were also tested for Ebola, Dengue, Yellow fever and so far have tested negative. The two laboratories that are currently operational are: Virology laboratory, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos -Nigeria and Lassa fever research and control centre, Irrua specialist hospital/Lahor Research Laboratory, Edo State- Nigeria. Tertiary Institution Students and National Youth Corps are also affected. Lassa fever affects all sex, ages and socio-economic classes. Establishment of Laboratories for screening and Diagnosis of Lassa and other haemorrhagic diseases at tertiary academic institutions, primary, secondary and tertiary health care centers in Nigeria will reduce scourge of Lassa fever and other haemorrhagic diseases.

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