Man who succumbed to Lassa fever in KZN recently travelled to Nigeria, says NICD


A case of Lassa fever was diagnosed in a man from KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday, and according to the NICD, he had extensive travel history in Nigeria before returning to South Africa.

He fell ill after entering South Africa and was hospitalised in a Pietermaritzburg hospital, before succumbing to the infection.

The diagnosis of the infection was confirmed through laboratory testing conducted at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, a Division of the National Health Laboratory Service.

“Currently efforts are underway to trace and monitor all possible contacts. No secondary cases of Lassa fever have been confirmed at the time of this report,” said the NICD.

Lassa fever is a viral infection that is endemic to the West African countries and mostly reported in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and Nigeria. It is less frequently reported from Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Ivory Coast.

Up to 300,000 cases of the infection, with about 5,000 deaths, are recorded annually in the endemic countries. Currently there is no vaccine for Lassa fever.

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“The natural host of this virus in endemic countries is a rodent species called the multimammate rat. The rats are persistently infected and shed the virus in their urine and faeces. Humans can come into contact with the virus through direct contact or inhalation of the virus in areas that are infested with the infected rats,” explained the NICD.

Unlike with Covid-19, person-to-person transmission is not common with Lassa Fever, and is mostly associated with the hospital setting where healthcare workers have contact with the infected blood and bodily fluids of a patient.

The last a case of Lassa fever was detected in South Africa was in 2007.

The case involved a Nigerian citizen with extensive travel history in rural parts of Nigeria before falling ill and he received medical treatment in South Africa. No secondary cases of Lassa fever were reported in this instance.

Source: citizen