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Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

Lassa Fever (Benin) (Togo) (Burkina Faso)

14 Mar 2017

On the 10 March 2017 the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported on Lassa fever in Benin, Togo and Burkina Faso.

On 11 February 2017 a pregnant female who was living in Nigeria (close to the border with Benin) was admitted to hospital in Benin where her premature baby was delivered by caesarean section. The woman died on the 12 February 2017, she tested positive for Lassa fever. On the 14 February the father took the baby to Mango in northern Togo where they were admitted to a hospital. The baby tested positive for Lassa fever and the father tested negative. The baby was treated with ribavirin and is currently in stable condition. There are 68 contacts in Benin and 29 contacts in Togo that have been linked to the cases are being followed up.

On 26 February 2017 the Ministry of Health of Burkina Faso notified WHO of a confirmed case of Lassa fever in a hospital in northern Togo. The case has originated from the central eastern part of Burkina Faso. The case was a pregnant woman, she had previously been hospitalised in Burkina Faso but was discharged and then suffered a miscarriage at home. After a second hospitalisation in Burkina Faso she was transmitted to a hospital in Mango, northern Togo, and passed away on 3 March 2017. A total of 7 contacts have been linked to the case in Togo and 135 contacts in Burkina Faso, contact tracing is ongoing.

On 2 March 2017 a male was admitted to a health centre in the Kpendial health district in Togo, on 3 March 2017 he was referred to a regional hospital where he tested positive for Lassa fever. The case left the hospital on 6 March 2017. The case and his close relatives are under follow up at their home. A total of 18 contacts in Togo have been linked to the case.

In response health authorities in Benin, Burkina Faso and Togo have undertaken the following measures:

  • Deployment of rapid response teams to affected areas for epidemiological investigation.
  • Contact tracing and follow-up.
  • Strengthening of infection control measures in health facilities and briefing of health care workers.
  • Strengthening of cross border collaboration and information exchanges between the countries involved.

Advice for Travellers

Lassa fever is a low risk for most travellers unless living in poor sanitary conditions. Lassa fever is a viral disease transmitted via contact with rodent urine or faeces. Healthcare workers are at risk if good infection control and barrier nursing methods are not maintained.

Travellers returning from affected areas who develop symptoms of fever, malaise, headache, sore throat, muscle pain, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal pain should seek medical advice.

Further information on viral haemorrhagic fever.