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Lassa fever in Sierra Leone (Update 1)

31 Jan 2020

On 26 January 2020 the World Health Organisation reported a total of nine suspected Lassa fever cases (including five deaths) between 30 October 2019 and 17 January 2020. The cases occurred in Tonkolili (5 cases, 3 deaths), Kenema (3 cases, 1 death) and Kono (1 case, 1 death). Five of the 9 were laboratory confirmed for Lassa fever.

Advice for Travellers

Lassa fever presents a low risk for most travellers to west African countries, unless living in conditions of poor sanitation and overcrowding in rural areas where the reservoir host is usually found. Lassa fever is a zoonotic viral disease transmitted via the excreta of an infected Mastomys rat. Unhygienic conditions should be avoided.

Healthcare workers can also be risk at risk of infection: strict infection control and barrier nursing methods must be maintained at all times.

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.

For further information see Viral Haemorrhagic Fever.