A patient in the UK died on Friday after being infected with the Lassa fever following a third case of the infectious virus was confirmed by health authorities.
“The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) can confirm that the probable case of Lassa fever under investigation is now confirmed, bringing the total number of cases to 3. Sadly, this individual has died,” the health authority 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,” the statement added.
The fatality and case confirmation came two days after two people were diagnosed with the fever. An investigation found that the infections arose within the same family in east England with links to recent travel to West Africa where the virus originates.
The infection is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness brought about by the Lassa virus.
Exposure occurs through food and items contaminated with the urine and feces of rats.
The fever originates from West Africa where the disease is endemic.
“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,” said Susan Hopkins, chief medical advisor at the UKHSA.
“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,” Hopkins added.
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