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Published On: Fri, Apr 11th, 2014

Suspected Ebola cases in Sierra Leone tests positive for Lassa fever

In an update concerning the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), the numbers have increased both in Guinea and Liberia. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as of 9 April, a cumulative total of 158 clinically compatible cases, including 101 deaths have been officially reported in Guinea. 66 of the clinical cases have been laboratory confirmed.

This transmission electron micrograph (TEM) depicted numbers of Lassa virus virions adjacent to some cell debris. Image/C. S. Goldsmith

This transmission electron micrograph (TEM) depicted numbers of Lassa virus virions adjacent to some cell debris. Image/C. S. Goldsmith

In Liberia, The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of Liberia has so far reported 25 EVD cases, including 12 deaths (case fatality ratio 48%). Mali has reported six suspected cases which are currently being investigated. Two previously suspected cases have been discarded after they tested negative for ebolavirus and other viral hemorrhagic fever viruses in assays conducted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Sierra Leone, where two suspected EVD cases were being investigated has now been ruled out. The two cases have tested positive for Lassa fever, a disease that is endemic in the country. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page and the Outbreak News This Week Radio Show page.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Lassa fever is an acute viral illness that occurs in West Africa. The virus, a member of the virus family Arenaviridae, is a single-stranded RNA virus and is zoonotic, or animal-borne.

Lassa fever is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality. While Lassa fever is mild or has no observable symptoms in about 80% of people infected with the virus, the remaining 20% have a severe multisystem disease.

The animal host of Lassa virus is a rodent known as the “multimammate rat” of the genus Mastomys. Humans get infected with Lassa through aerosol or direct contact with excreta from the rodent. Laboratory infections do occur primarily through contaminated needles.

The symptoms of Lassa fever typically occur 1-3 weeks after the patient comes into contact with the virus. These include fever, retrosternal pain (pain behind the chest wall), sore throat, back pain, cough, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, conjunctivitis, facial swelling, proteinuria (protein in the urine), and mucosal bleeding. Neurological problems have also been described, including hearing loss, tremors, and encephalitis.

 

 

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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