Two cases of Lassa fever found in UK

Two cases of Lassa fever have been found in England, with a further “probable” case being investigated.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said the cases which have been identified are within the same family in the east of England and are linked to recent travel to West Africa.

Lassa Fever is an illness caused by the Lassa virus, which usually infects people through exposure to food or household items that have been contaminated with the urine or faeces of infected rats. The virus can also be spread through infected bodily fluids.

UKHSA said. It added cases that occur elsewhere are “almost exclusively in people who work in endemic areas in high-risk occupations such as medical or other aid workers.”

One of the cases identified has recovered while the other is being treated at the Royal Free London Foundation Trust. The third probable case is being treated at Bedfordshire Hospitals Foundation Trust.

Dr. Susan Hopkins, chief medical advisor at UKHSA said: “Cases of Lassa fever are rare in the UK and it does not spread easily between people. The overall risk to the public is very low. 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 UKHSA and the NHS have well-established and robust infection control procedures for dealing with cases of imported infectious disease and these will be reinforced.” she added.

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