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Patient Dies From Infectious Disease Not Seen In UK For 10 Years

Emily Brown

Published 
| Last updated 

Patient Dies From Infectious Disease Not Seen In UK For 10 Years

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Health officials have confirmed that one person has died after catching Lassa Fever.

The total number of confirmed cases of Lassa fever is now up to three, with all identified cases found within the same family in the east of England.

The person who has passed away is from Bedfordshire and was being treated by Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

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Hospital ward (Alamy)
Hospital ward (Alamy)

A spokesperson for the Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust commented: 'We confirm the sad death of a patient at our trust, who had confirmed Lassa fever. We send our deepest condolences to their family at this difficult time. We will continue to support the patient’s family and our staff and are working closely with colleagues from the UK Health Security Agency to undertake a robust contact tracing exercise.'

Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness caused by the Lassa virus, which can infect people through exposure to food or household items contaminated with the urine or faeces of infected rats, or through bodily fluids.

The Guardian reports that people living in areas of west Africa, where there are high populations of rodents, and where the disease is endemic, are most at risk of Lassa fever.

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Imported cases of the disease rarely occur elsewhere in the world, and are reportedly almost exclusively found in patients who work in endemic areas in high-risk occupations, such as working in a hospital.

Doctor (Pixabay)
Doctor (Pixabay)

According to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), the cases are linked to recent travel to west Africa.

In a statement, Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Advisor at UKHSA said: '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.'

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Hopkins added: '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.'

Two cases of the disease were announced earlier this week, while the now-deceased patient was placed under 'investigation' for Lassa fever before the UKHSA confirmed their diagnosis today, February 11.

The recent cases mark the first time Lassa fever has been identified in the UK for more than a decade, with the last two reported cases having occurred in 2009. There have reportedly been just eight cases of Lassa fever imported into the UK since 1980.

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Topics: News, UK News, Health

Emily Brown
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