The Ministry of Health of Guinea notified WHO last week of a confirmed fatal case of Lassa fever in a three-year-old male child from the Kobela health area, Nzerekore health district.
The date of onset of symptoms was 13 March 2023, with fever, asthenia, anorexia, and dry cough. On 20 March 2023, the child was taken to the regional hospital for medical attention due to the persistence of the disease.
On 21 March 2023 the child presented with bleeding from the mouth and blackish blood from the
anus. Laboratory tests on the blood sample taken the same day were positive for Lassa fever virus. The child died in the community, in a remote village, after escaping from the hospital.
A safe and dignified burial was not performed. Public health measures are being taken.
Guinea is one of the West African countries where Lassa fever is endemic along with Benin, Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria, Mali, Sierra Leone, and Togo.
Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic fever spread through contact with infected rodents or their urine or droppings. Lassa fever can also be spread from person to person through contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids.
Symptoms of Lassa fever (fever, chills, headache, and fatigue) develop 1-3 weeks after infection. About 20% of people infected with Lassa fever develop severe illness that can lead to hemorrhaging (bleeding), respiratory distress, vomiting, facial swelling, pain in the chest, back, and abdomen, and sometimes death.