Imported case of Lassa fever in South Africa

The health authorities ofSouth Africa reported on May 12, 2022 a fatal case of lassa fever imported in a man from KwaZulu-Natal. The man had extensive travel history in Nigeria before returning to South Africa.

He fell ill after entering South Africa and was hospitalized in a hospital in Pietermaritzburg where he died. The diagnosis of Lassa fever was confirmed by laboratory tests performed at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. An investigation is underway to trace and monitor all possible contacts. No secondary cases of Lassa fever have been confirmed at the time of writing the report.

This is the first case reported in South Africa since 2007.

Reminders on the lassa fever :

The lassa fever is a hemorrhagic fever caused by a Arénaviridae and viruses Lassa. This is endemic in several West African countries, Nigeria, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where epidemic outbreaks occur regularly and affect 100 to 300,000 people per year, of whom 5 to 6,000 die. .

The main reservoir of the Lassa virus is a small peri-domestic rodent called Mastomys natalensis. The virus is transmitted to humans through contact with animal excrement (urine, faeces). Many of these rodents live near or even inside homes, and their infection rate can be as high as 80%. Contact between man and the infected reservoir is therefore very frequent in the villages. The virus can also be transmitted from human to human, mainly in a hospital context, by cutaneous-mucous contact with the biological fluids of a patient.

The clinical picture of Lassa fever is variable, from asymptomatic infection, which is very common (80% of cases) to lightning hemorrhagic fever. The disease begins 6 to 21 days after infection with non-specific clinical signs: fever, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, headache, myalgia, arthralgia, asthenia. In severe cases, the symptoms then worsen, with the appearance of edema, hemorrhagic signs, pericardial and pleural effusions, and more rarely encephalitis. The patient dies in a context of hypotensive and hypovolemic shock and renal and hepatic failures.

Lassa fever is extremely serious for pregnant women, frequently leading to the death of the mother and systematically to that of the fetus.

Source : Outbreak News Today.


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