The United Kingdom has said that it has detected another Lassa virus-related fatality. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) confirmed that the total number of fatalities caused due to this fever has now gone up to 3.

Earlier in the month, two cases were detected within the same family in the East of England and were linked to recent travel to West Africa.

According to WHO, Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic illness caused by Lassa virus, a member of the arenavirus family of viruses.

How is the virus transmitted?

People usually become infected with Lassa virus through exposure to food or household items contaminated with urine or faeces of infected Mastomys rats.

Person-to-person infections and laboratory transmission can also occur, particularly in health care settings in the absence of adequate infection prevention and control measures.

Treatment

Diagnosis and prompt treatment are essential. The overall case-fatality rate is 1 per cent. Among patients who are hospitalised with severe clinical presentation of Lassa fever, case-fatality is estimated at around 15 per cent.

With early supportive care with rehydration and symptomatic treatment, fatality can be prevented.

Symptoms

About 80 per cent of people who become infected with Lassa virus have no symptoms. 1 in 5 infections result in severe disease, where the virus affects several organs such as the liver, spleen and kidneys.

Lassa fever is known to be endemic in Benin, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Togo and Nigeria, but probably exists in other West African countries as well, as mentioned by WHO.

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