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Lassa Fever Outbreak

Updated February 13, 2022

Major Hemorrhagic Fever outbreak declared at hospital after more Lassa Fever cases

NHS staff at hospital in the East of England forced to isolated after treating Lassa fever patient

A major incident has been declared by the NHS in the East of England after hospital staff who treated a Lassa fever patient were forced to isolate.

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Three cases of the Ebola-like virus have been confirmed in the UK and one patient has died, the UK Health Security Agency has confirmed.

Staff who were in direct contact with one of the three patients at a hospital in Cambridge have been advised to self-isolate.

In a statement on Friday, the NHS reassured the public that the risk from Lassa fever “is very low” and said the major incident was declared because of the impact the self-isolation periods will have on key services.

“Staff in direct contact with confirmed cases will have to self-isolate for a period of time. This is standard procedure and precautionary only.

“Because of the impact this will have on staffing key services in our region we have declared a regional major incident. This allows the region’s healthcare systems to work together to keep services running safely.

“Some hospital services will be affected, with a number of services either postponed or moved to a different location. Patients that are affected by this will be contacted directly.”

According to reports in the Health Service Journal, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was forced to close a “substantial” portion of its critical care beds due to staff being told to self-isolate after being in contact with one of the patients.

One of the cases identified has recovered and the other is being treated at the Royal Free London Foundation Trust.

UKHSA is contacting individuals who have had close contact with the cases prior to their infections being confirmed.

“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,” said Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical advisor at UKHSA.


1 person confirmed dead Lassa Fever :

Hospitalized patient in Bedfordshire succumbs to Lassa Fever after becoming third member of african refugee family to test positive for Lassa Fever

A person in Bedfordshire has become the first in England to die after catching Lassa fever, the UK Health Security Agency announced today. 

The unidentified individual was the third member of a family who recently returned from West Africa to become infected with the virus.

Lassa Fever , which has been classed as having ‘pandemic potential’, is thought to cause no symptoms in 80 per cent of patients and kill just one per cent of those it infects.

The UKHSA is conducting a ‘robust contact tracing exercise’ to reach everyone who had close contact with those infected.

A spokesperson for Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 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.’

The UKHSA said there was no evidence of any onward transmission among any of the cases.

No details have been revealed about the family due to patient confidentiality.

Of the two other cases, one was moved to the Royal Free Hospital in London to receive specialist care, while the second has already made a full recovery.

Around 80 per cent of people who contract the disease experience no symptoms at all, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

And while most people make a full recovery, the virus can be fatal in roughly 1 per cent of cases.

Among those who do get symptoms, a quarter of patients will experience temporary deafness that will eventually return.

Other symptoms include headaches, sore throats and vomiting.

It can also trigger bleeding from the eyes, mouth and nose.

However, they can gradually progress to shock, seizures, tremors, disorientation and comas without prompt treatment.

Patients are treated with antivirals and sometimes blood pressure drugs and oxygen.

The disease is classed as having pandemic potential and the World Health Organization (WHO) has included it on its priority watchlist, alongside Ebola and dengue.

Nigeria’s Lassa fever outbreak has seen over 200 cases and 40 deaths.

The country’s Centre for Disease Control said most cases have been identified among people in their twenties and thirties and are spread across 14 of the country’s 43 regions.

Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical advisor at UKHSA, said on Wednesday that Lassa fever cases ‘are rare in the UK and it does not spread easily between people’.

But it said the risk to the general public ‘remains very low’.

Lassa fever is endemic in Nigeria — which is currently suffering an outbreak of the virus — and several other countries on the west coast of Africa, including Liberia and Guinea.

People usually become infected after exposure to food or household items that are contaminated with urine or faeces of infected rats.

But the virus, which can make trigger seizures and bleeding from the eyes, as well as make women bleed from their vagina, can also be transmitted via bodily fluids.


February 10, 2022

CASES of Lassa Fever have been reported in the UK after a family arrived from West Africa.

Two people from the East of England caught the disease, with a third person being monitored by health chiefs.

The virus – in the same family as Ebola, but not as deadly or infectious – has become endemic in a number of West African countries

West African countries have seen outbreaks of the virus, which can be fatal

It is an acute viral hemorrhagic fever , which can lead to internal bleeding and affect multiple organ systems.

People usually contract the virus by being exposed to food or items covered in rat urine or feces, but it can also be spread through infected bodily fluids.

The virus – in the same family as Ebola, but not as deadly or infectious – has become endemic in a number of West African countries.

It originated in the town of Lassa, northern Nigeria, which is its’ namesake.

The fever has an incubation period of 21 days and can also be transmitted through bodily fluids.

Lassa fever: UK detects two cases of Ebola-like virus that can cause vaginal bleeding and deafness

This is the first time the disease has been found in Britain in more than a decade.

A sign is displayed outside of the Royal Free Hospital in north London August 24, 2014. A British medical worker was flown home from West Africa on Sunday after becoming the first Briton infected in an Ebola epidemic, and a separate new outbreak of the disease was detected in Democratic Republic of Congo. The man was transported to an isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital in London. REUTERS/Neil Hall (BRITAIN - Tags: HEALTH DISASTER)
The Royal Free Hospital is a specialist centre for treating patients with viral hemorrhagic fevers, including Lassa fever. 

Two people in the UK have been diagnosed with Lassa fever – an Ebola-like virus that can cause symptoms like vaginal bleeding and deafness.

Those infected are members of a family that recently returned from west Africa, where the disease is endemic, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

They live in the East of England.

A third relative is suspected of having the disease but is waiting for the results of a confirmatory test.

Lassa fever is usually caught from exposure to food or household items contaminated with the urine or faeces of infected rats.

It can also be transmitted through contact with infected bodily fluids.

This is the first time the disease has been found in Britain since 2009 – and there have only been eight previous cases in the country.

One of the infected patients has recovered, while the other is being treated at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.

The third person with a “probable” infection is receiving care at Bedfordshire Hospitals’ NHS Foundation Trust.

There is no evidence of onward transmission from any of the cases.

Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser 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.”

One percent of people infected with the Lassa virus die, according to the World Health Organisation.

About 80% show no symptoms, while others experience a fever with aches and pains that can progress to headaches, vomiting and diarrhea.

In severe cases there may be facial swelling, fluid in the lung cavity, bleeding from the mouth, nose, vagina or gastrointestinal tract and low blood pressure.

Deafness occurs in 25% of patients who survive the disease.

In half of these cases, hearing returns partially after one to three months.

There are 100,000 to 300,000 Lassa fever cases estimated in west Africa each year.

Dr Sir Michael Jacobs, consultant in infectious diseases at the Royal Free London, said: “People living in endemic areas of west Africa with high populations of rodents are most at risk of Lassa fever.

“Imported cases rarely occur elsewhere in the world.

“Such cases are almost exclusively in people who work in endemic areas in high-risk occupations, such as medical or other aid workers.”

 

Press release

Lassa fever cases identified in England, following travel to West Africa

Two people have been diagnosed with Lassa fever in England, confirms the UK Health Security Agency.

A further probable case of Lassa fever is under investigation. The cases are within the same family in the East of England and are linked to recent travel to West Africa.

Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic illness caused by Lassa virus. People usually become infected with Lassa virus through exposure to food or household items contaminated with urine or feces of infected rats – present in a number of West African countries where the disease is endemic. The virus can also be spread through infected bodily fluids.

Most people with Lassa fever will make a full recovery, however severe illness can occur in some individuals. One of the cases has recovered, while the other will receive specialist care at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.

The probable case is receiving care at Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. The High Consequence Infectious Disease Network is engaged with their ongoing care.

Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Advisor at UKHSA said:

We can confirm that 2 cases of Lassa fever have been identified in England, and a further probable case is under investigation. The cases are within the same family and are linked to recent travel to West Africa.

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.

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.

Prior to these cases, there have been 8 cases of Lassa fever imported to the UK since 1980. The last 2 cases occurred in 2009. There was no evidence of onward transmission from any of these cases.

Dr Sir Michael Jacobs, consultant in infectious diseases at the Royal Free London, said:

The Royal Free Hospital is a specialist center for treating patients with viral hemorrhagic fevers, including Lassa fever.

Our secure unit is run by a highly-trained and experienced team of doctors, nurses, therapists and laboratory staff and is designed to ensure our staff can safely treat patients with these kind of infections.

People living in endemic areas of West Africa with high populations of rodents are most at risk of Lassa fever. Imported cases rarely occur elsewhere in the world. Such cases are almost exclusively in people who work in endemic areas in high-risk occupations, such as medical or other aid workers.

UK Health Security Agency press office

Wellington House
133-155 Waterloo Road

London
SE1 8UG

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/lassa-fever-hospital-incident-infection-b2013420.html

https://news.sky.com/story/lassa-fever-uk-detects-two-cases-of-ebola-like-virus-that-can-cause-vaginal-bleeding-and-deafness-12537596

https://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/health/8408530/two-people-england-lassa-fever/

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10503063/England-records-Lassa-fever-death.html?ito=native_share_article-top


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