WHO supports five countries to fight Lassa fever outbreaks

19 February 2019

Article: 53/0703

The World Health Organization (WHO) has scaled up its efforts to support West Africa’s response to Lassa fever, with five countries reporting cases. The largest outbreak has affected 16 states in Nigeria, where 213 confirmed cases, including 42 deaths, have been reported. A total of 12 cases have been confirmed in Benin, Guinea, Liberia and Togo, including two deaths.

The WHO is assisting health authorities in these countries with contact tracing and providing medical and non-medical supplies, as well as technical and financial resources, where needed for case management, risk communication and logistics.

Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness that occurs predominantly in West Africa, after human exposure to the urine or faeces of infected Mastomys rats. More than 80% of Lassa fever cases are via rodent-to-human transmission. Person-to-person transmission occurs in both community and health-care settings.

Further information and advice on viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF), and on travel to Nigeria and the other four countries is available to view on the Travax (for health professionals) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.

Source: WHO Africa, 08 February 2019