Lassa fever – United Kingdom
Another death due to Lassa fever in the United Kingdom.
A newborn child has died in a University Hospital of Luton and Dunstable. This is the third death reported in the same family after travel to West Africa.
These are the first cases in England in the last 10 years. All people who have been in contact with the family are under preventive quarantine.
Photo: Lassa fever virus – Electron micrograph
Lassa fever, also known as Lassa hemorrhagic fever (LHF), is a type of viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus. Many of those infected by the virus do not develop symptoms but for 1 percent of those infected, death occurs in the first two weeks. The disease is usually initially spread to people via contact with the urine or feces of an infected mouse. Spread can then further continue between people.
There is no vaccine. Prevention requires isolating those who are infected and decreasing contact with mice.
Descriptions of the disease date from the 1950s. The virus was first described in 1969 from a case in the town of Lassa, in Borno State, Nigeria. Lassa fever is relatively common in West Africa.
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