Lassa Fever Cases Reported in England; How Deadly is This Viral Disease? All You Need to Know

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has reported that two persons in England have been diagnosed with Lassa fever, while a third probable case is under investigation. According to reports, the cases have been detected in the same family linked with a recent travel to West Africa.

One of the infected person has recovered, while the second is under treatment with specialist care at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust. UKHSA said that the probable case is currently being treated at Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS foundation trust, according to reports in The Guardian.

Lassa fever is rare in UK and most people make a full recovery. However, severe illness may occur in some individuals.

Lassa fever
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What is Lassa Fever?

Lassa fever is a type of acute, viral disease that is carried by a type of rat found in West Africa. It can be life-threatening.

How does Lassa Fever spread?

Lassa Fever can spread through the urine and feces of the (Mastomys natalensis) multimammate rat and consuming or inhaling the rat urine or feces is the most common method of transmission of this viral disease, which can also be spread through cuts and open sores. This viral disease is most common in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Liberia.

Symptoms of Lassa Fever

Symptoms vary from person to person and can include pulmonary, neurological and cardiac problems.

How deadly is Lassa Fever?

Lassa fever is fatal in around 1% of all the cases and around 15% to 20% of all hospitalization will end in death. Within 2 weeks after a person shows Lassa Fever symptoms, death may occur due to multiple organ failure.

A Man Was Diagnosed With Lassa Fever in January 2009

In January 2009, a man, 66, showing symptoms of fever, diarrhoea and confusion was admitted to the Homerton University Hospital (HUH) in London. He reportedly traveled via flight from Abuja in Nigeria to London, according to Eurosurveilance, a journal on infectious disease surveillance, epidemiology, prevention and control.

After being diagnosed with Lassa fever that was confirmed by RT-PCR on January 23, by the Novel and Dangerous Pathogens Laboratory (NaDP) laboratory at the Health Protection Agency (HPA) Centre for Emergency Preparedness and Response (CEPR), Porton Down, the patient was commenced on ribavirin, an antiviral medication for treating RSV infection and some viral hemorrhagic fevers.

The man remained in isolation during his admission. Initially, he was showing some improvement but, had a degree of nerve deafness. Despite intensive care and nursing, the man died on January 29 from complications exacerbated by pre-existing medical conditions.