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Background: Viral hemorrhagic fevers (VHFs) are infectious illnesses that can cause serious morbidity and mortality to infected persons. During the 2014 Ebola virus disease outbreak in some West African countries, Ghana revamped its surveillance system across the country to prepare, effectively respond and pre-empt any public health concerns.
Objective: We report on suspected VHF clinical specimens submitted to the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) from health facilities across the country for diagnosis within the period under review. This was partly to provide rapid response and to alert the health system to prevent outbreaks and its spread.
Methods: From January 2017 to December 2018 clinical specimens of blood from 149 cases of suspected VHFs were collected at health facilities across the country and sent to NMIMR. Patient specimens were tested for viral pathogens including Lassa fever, Yellow fever, Dengue fever, Chikungunya, Zika, Ebola and Marburg by real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. A case was however tested for influenza as the patient exhibited respiratory distress symptoms as well. Demographic and clinical information collected on a structured case-based forms were analyzed for each patient.
Results: Out of the 149 clinical specimens tested, three (3) were found to be positive, with two (2) being Dengue and one (1) seasonal Influenza A H1N1. Analysis of the case-based forms revealed shortcomings with regards to standard case definitions used to enroll suspected cases.
Conclusion: Our results buttress the need for a routine surveillance activity for VHFs to minimize spread and possibly forestall outbreaks. Moreover, febrile illnesses can be caused by a host of pathogens hence there is a need for enhanced diagnosis to help in patient management.