Health authorities confirm outbreak of H1N1 at Kumasi Academy

An outbreak of Acute Respiratory Illness (H1N1) with severe presentations and some resultant deaths has been confirmed as the illness affecting some students of the Kumasi Academy Senior High School (KUMACA).

Government officials say the outbreak began on November 30, 2017 and, as at Wednesday, December 6, a total of 44 cases including four deaths have been reported.

Of the 19 lab samples sent to Noguchi, 12 tested Positive for Influenza Type-A, while report on further tests received in the evening of Thursday, have confirmed Influenza Type-A H1N1 2009 pandemic strain.

The situation has now resulted in an attack rate of 14/1,000 population with a case fatality rate of 9.1 per cent, Mr Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, the Minister of Health, said in Accra Thursday evening. 

Addressing a joint press conference involving the Ministries of Health and Education, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the Ghana Education Service, Mr Agyemang-Manu said similar deaths that occurred in April 2017 at the same school had turned out to be caused by Meningitis Type C.

He said coupled with the onset of Meningitis and some pathological findings observed, initial suspicion on the November outbreak focused on Meningitis and Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers, which turned out not to be the case.

He explained that on December 1, when the Ministry of Health and the GHS received information about the death of the two students in KUMACA, a multi-disciplinary Rapid Response Team was deployed to start response actions to the threat by providing technical and logistics support, verify the reports and identify the underlying factors.

The Team was also to work to prevent further spread of the outbreak and contain the situation.

Mr Agyemang-Manu said based on the symptoms and signs of the first cases, differential diagnosis on Meningitis, Acute Viral Haemorrhagic Fever (VHF) including Ebola Virus Disease and Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI) were conducted.

He said, accordingly, Cerebro-spinal Fluid, blood and throat swabs were sent to Noguchi, the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research, the National Public Health Reference Laboratories and the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) for confirmation of cases, but all the results proved negative.

However, results from the KATH are still being awaited, while arrangements had been made for a team of pathologists to conduct autopsy on the rest of the cases.  

Mr Agyemang-Manu said the stakeholder ministries and agencies were, therefore, recommending that students should remain on campus to enable the final conclusions on response actions, while the team worked to strengthen surveillance on the condition.

He said as part of the response measures, the Team, with support from the World Health Organisation, would take immediate steps to access vaccines and enhance school health at KUMACA and the entire nation.

The Team would, among other things, complete all outstanding laboratory investigations and autopsy, as well as intensify public education, sensitise outbreak response at the next Parent-Teacher Association meeting and procure antiviral agents (TAMEFLU) for case management.

Meanwhile, media reports indicate that the situation has, so far, cost government GH¢100,000 to contain the illness.

So far, four students, made up of three boys and a girl, have lost their lives to the illness.

School and health authorities are undertaking a screening and treatment exercise for the students.

A number of students who left the school have returned to take part in the screening and treatment.

Already, most of the students had taken a Broad Spectrum Antibiotics being administered by health authorities.

KUMACA is within the Asawase Constituency of the Ashanti Region.

Source: GNA

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