Outbreak News Today

Liberia: Lassa fever reported in Bong County

Since the beginning of the year, the Liberia Ministry of Health has reported a total of 70 suspected Lassa fever cases including 21 deaths (case fatality rate 30%) from nine counties in Liberia. Out of this, 28 cases have been confirmed as Lassa virus infection, including 10 deaths from six counties.

Liberia map/CIA

Health officials reported the most recent confirmed case in a 5-year-old Bong County girl on Nov. 14.

The girl from the Frog Island community, Jorquellie District, had onset of illness on 5 November 2017. She presented to Phebe Hospital (a designated Lassa fever isolation/treatment centre) on 8 November 2017 with high fever, conjunctival injection, vomiting, joint and abdominal pains. A blood specimen was collected and sent to the National Reference Laboratory in Margibi. A laboratory test result released on 14 November 2017 was positive for Lassa fever on reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Eleven contacts of the case-patient have been identified in the community and are being monitored daily.

The country has been reporting sporadic cases of Lassa fever, including in October.

Bong County has reported a total of 20 suspected cases out of which six have been confirmed.

Lassa fever is endemic in Liberia, with sporadic cases and occasional outbreaks reported annually. Bong County is considered one of the endemic areas. In this county, poor sanitation coupled with improper food storage and handling (which attract the Lassa virus-carrying rodents – the Mastomys rats), have been considered a risk factor for the high incidence of the disease. Overcrowding and poor environmental management are also contributing factors facilitating transmission of the disease in this population.

Related: