Man dies of Lassa fever in KwaZulu-Natal hospital, says NICD

A case of Lassa fever was diagnosed in a patient in KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday, 12 May. The man travelled extensively through Nigeria – one of the countries where the virus is endemic – before returning to South Africa.


The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said the man fell ill after he returned to the country and was admitted to a Pietermaritzburg hospital.

The patient’s Lassa fever diagnosis was confirmed through laboratory testing at the NICD National Health Laboratory Service.

“Sadly, the man succumbed to the infection. Currently, efforts are underway to trace and monitor all possible contacts,” said the NICD.

No secondary cases of Lassa fever had been confirmed by the time, the NICD issued its report to the media.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic fever illness, which is mainly transmitted to humans via contact with food or household items contaminated with Mastomys rats’ urine or faeces.

Person-to-person transmission is not common, said the NICD. Most human transmissions take place in hospital settings where healthcare workers come into contact with the infected blood and bodily fluids of a patient.

Lassa fever is mostly reported from West African countries, including Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria, where it is endemic.

“Up to 300 000 cases of Lassa fever, with about 5000 deaths, are recorded annually in the endemic countries,” said the NICD.

By Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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Occasionally, travellers that return from endemic countries are infected with the virus. In 2007, a Nigerian citizen received treatment in South Africa after falling ill. No secondary cases of Lassa fever were reported in that matter.

More recently, in February 2022, an imported case of Lassa fever was identified in the United Kingdom. The individual in that case displayed symptoms of fever, fatigue and loose stool before being hospitalized.

There is no vaccine approved to treat the virus, said WHO. Early care with rehydration and symptomatic treatment improves the survival rate.

“[Lassa fever] can cause severe disease in about 20% of patients. The case fatality ratio (CFR) is 1% overall and 15% in severely ill patients,” said the Organization.



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Publish date : 2022-05-13 13:56:36

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