Tags: lassa fever | emory | west africa

Lassa Fever at Emory: Patient Who Traveled From West Africa Is Being Treated

Image: Lassa Fever at Emory: Patient Who Traveled From West Africa Is Being Treated
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By    |   Monday, 14 Mar 2016 08:40 AM

A case of Lassa fever has been confirmed at Emory University Hospital, where a patient who traveled to Atlanta from west Africa recently is being treated.

Emory officials said the patient is in the same isolation unit where physicians treated four Americans who contracted Ebola two years ago, according to WSB-TV. Officials told the television station that the unidentified patient was working for a missionary organization when they fell ill.

"The patient, who due to confidentiality regulations cannot be identified, is an American physician assistant working for a missionary organization in Togo, West Africa," said a statement from Emory. "Lassa fever is different from Ebola. Although Lassa fever and Ebola can result in similar symptoms, Lassa fever is less likely than Ebola to spread from person to person and is far less deadly."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
, Lassa fever is an acute viral illness that originates out of west Africa. The illness, first discovered in 1969 when two missionary nurses died in Nigeria, is from the Arenaviridae virus family, a single-stranded RNA (ribonucleic acid) virus and is zoonotic, or animal-borne, an agency fact page says.

Lassa fever is endemic in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and Nigeria, the CDC noted, but added that bordering countries are also at risk as the animal vector for the Lassa virus, the "multimammate rat," continues to move throughout the region.

Emory stated that the death rate from Lassa fever is about 10 to 20 percent of hospitalized patients, while Ebola kills about 70 percent of those affected. An estimated 100,000 to 300,000 people re infected by Lassa fever each year, according to the university.

The virus is mainly spread through direct contact with or the inhalation of droppings from rodents that carry it.

The CDC stated that the antiviral drug Ribavirin has been used successfully in treating Lassa fever patients. The drug has been most effective when given to patients in the early course of the illness, the agency said.

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A case of Lassa fever has been confirmed at Emory University Hospital, where a patient who traveled to Atlanta from west Africa recently is being treated.
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2016-40-14
Monday, 14 Mar 2016 08:40 AM
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