Britain has reported one death from Lassa fever on Tuesday, 15 February. The British health authorities have announced the first three cases of Lassa Fever in the country since 2009. All three people infected with the Lassa virus were from the same family in eastern England and recently travelled to West Africa.
Lassa Virus, an acute viral haemorrhagic illness, belongs to the same family as the Marburg and Ebola viruses but is much less deadly. This fever was named after the town of Lassa in northern Nigeria, where it was first identified in 1969. The United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA), a public health body, said close contacts of the patients are being traced to “appropriate assessment, support and advice”.
Studies have shown that Matomys rats can spread the deadly Lassa virus. These rats are infected with this fatal disease, and they can excrete this virus through its faeces and urine, possibly for the rest of its life.
The United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has confirmed that two other people had been infected with the same disease. One of them recovered, while the second is still receiving special treatment at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust north of the British capital. The hospital has a particular unit that specialises in treating viral haemorrhagic fevers.
The patient who died because of Lassa fever was initially treated as a suspected case at the Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust north of London. The hospital confirmed in a statement the patient had the disease. Last month, the Nigerian authorities said they were battling rising disease cases that claimed dozens of lives. The number of infected persons rises at the start of the year in a phenomenon linked to the dry season.
The common symptoms of this fever include fatigue, headache, slight fever, weakness, and more severe symptoms including difficulty breathing, bleeding, facial swelling, vomiting, pain in the chest, back, and abdomen and shock. Symptoms typically appear 1-3 weeks after exposure.