Nigeria fingered as England records 1 Lassa fever death

Nigeria has been fingered as source of infection after a patient in Bedfordshire, the United Kingdom (U.K.), died of Lassa fever.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) announced, yesterday, that the unidentified individual was the third member of a family (that recently returned from West Africa) to become infected with the virus.

According to a report published yesterday by Daily Mail UK Online, only 11 cases of the rodent-borne disease have ever been detected in the UK. The three infections identified in the East of England in the last three days are the first spotted since 2009.

The online publication reports that the UKHSA is conducting a ‘robust contact tracing exercise’ to reach everyone who had close contact with those infected.

But it said the risk to the general public ‘remains very low’.

People usually become infected after exposure to food or household items that are contaminated with urine or faeces of infected rats.

But the virus, which can trigger seizures and bleeding from the eyes, as well as make women bleed from their vagina. It can also be transmitted via bodily fluids.

A spokesperson for Bedfordshire Hospitals British National Service (NHS) Foundation Trust said: “We confirm the sad death of a patient at our trust, who had confirmed Lassa fever. We send our deepest condolences to their family at this difficult time.

“We will continue to support the patient’s family and our staff and are working closely with colleagues from the UK Health Security Agency to undertake a robust contact tracing exercise.”

The UKHSA said there was no evidence of any onward transmission among any of the cases.

No details have been revealed about the family due to patient confidentiality.

Latest figures from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) showed the number of new confirmed cases increased from 42 in week 4, 2022 to 58 cases. These were reported from Ondo, Edo, Oyo, Bauchi, Taraba, Enugu, Ebonyi, Nasarawa and Anambra States.

According to NCDC, cumulatively from week 1 to week 5, 2022, 48 deaths have been reported with a case fatality rate (CFR) of 16.3 per cent, which is lower than the CFR for the same period in 2021 (18.2 per cent).

In total for 2022, 17 states have recorded at least one confirmed case across 59 Local Councils.

Of all confirmed cases, 75 per cent are from Ondo (32 per cent), Edo (24 per cent) and Bauchi (19 per cent). The predominant age group affected is 21-30 years. The male to female ratio for confirmed cases is 1:0.8.

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