2019 Lassa Fever Outbreak Response: Deployment of the Nigerian Mobile Laboratory to Owo (Ondo State, Nigeria).

In February 2019, in response to the magnitude of the Lassa fever outbreak and upon request of the Federal Medical Center (FMC) of Owo (Ondo State), the Nigerian Mobile Laboratory based at the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH), Edo State, deployed to Owo to provide Lassa virus diagnostics support.

Together with the Nigerian partners at the Institute for Lassa Fever Research and Control (ILFRC) at the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH), Irrua, Edo State, Nigeria, the European Mobile Laboratory (EMLab) Consortium and the BErnhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM), Hamburg, Germany, have reinforced the capacity to respond to infectious disease outbreaks caused by pathogens up to risk group 4 in the West African Subregion and Nigeria.  ILFRC has mobile laboratory capacity ready to respond and deploy to outbreaks if necessary.

FMC Owo opened a Lassa fever ward in 2018 to provide patient care in this endemic area but on site Lassa virus diagnostics for the hospitalized patients and suspect cases needed further improvement. While all samples could still be sent to ISTH for Lassa virus diagnostics, the set-up of a diagnostics pipeline at FMC Owo to cope with the surge of samples that would have otherwise been tested by ISTH, clearly improved patient care. Following a request of the Chief Medical Director of FMC Owo, ISTH responded positively by deploying the Nigerian Mobile Laboratory together with ISTH experts to set-up a diagnostics workflow and train the six local laboratory staff.

During one month, ILFRC-ISTH experts suported the implementation of the diagnostic workflow and training of staff so that laboratory lead was handed over to the head of the Laboratory of FMC Owo. The laboratory independently performs diagnostics on site for the benefit of the patients while ISTH still supports if needed. To sustain the benefit of this temporary deployment of the Mobile Laboratory and the diagnostics training, the implementation of a stationary laboratory to maintain this diagnostics capacity on the long term is planned.

This deployment was coordinated by ISTH and staff of the BNITM and was supported through the Global Health Protection Program (GHPP) and PANDORA-ID-NET (Pan-African Network for Rapid Research, Response, Relief and Preparedness for Infectious Diseases Epidemics, EDCTP) funds.