Hospital patient dies from confirmed case of Lassa fever, UKHSA says

An individual has died from what the UK Health Security Agency is likely to be Lassa fever.

11 February 2022

One patient in Bedfordshire has died from a confirmed case of the Ebola-like virus Lassa fever, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said.

In a statement on Friday, the agency said the individual died as they confirmed the case of the acute viral illness, which is endemic in parts of West Africa.

It comes as the third case of the potentially fatal infectious disease to be confirmed in recent days after the discovery of two cases in the east of England on Wednesday.

All three cases are understood to be linked to recent travel to West Africa.

UKHSA said: “We are contacting the individuals who have had close contact with the cases prior to confirmation of their infection, to provide appropriate assessment, support and advice.

“The risk to the general public remains very low.”

A Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust spokesperson said: “We confirm the sad death of a patient at our trust, who had confirmed Lassa fever.

“We send our deepest condolences to their family at this difficult time.

“We will continue to support the patient’s family and our staff and are working closely with colleagues from the UK Health Security Agency to undertake a robust contact tracing exercise.”

Prior to the three recent cases, eight cases had been identified in the UK since 1980.

The cases are the first of the disease to be confirmed in the UK since 2009.

In November 2019, three British nationals were brought back to the UK from Sierra Leone for medical assessment after coming into close contact with two people diagnosed with Lassa fever.

One of the two Dutch nationals, who contracted the virus while working in the West African nation, died.

At the time, Public Health England also contacted another 15 British nationals who had contact with the Dutch Lassa fever cases to monitor them.

However, no Lassa fever cases were ultimately confirmed.

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