To make sure you never miss out on your favourite NEW stories, we're happy to send you some reminders

Click 'OK' then 'Allow' to enable notifications

First Person In UK Has Died From Rare Rat-Borne Lassa Fever

First Person In UK Has Died From Rare Rat-Borne Lassa Fever

Two other cases are being probed after the first person in the UK dies of rare rat-borne virus Lassa fever

The first person in the UK has died from rare rat-borne virus Lassa fever, and two other cases are now being investigated.

In a statement, the UK Health Security Agency said the confirmed case of Lassa fever brought the total cases of the potentially fatal disease in the UK to three.

The statement 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.”


A Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust spokesperson said: “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.”

Catching the virus can occur via food or household items that have been contaminated with the urine or faeces of infected rats.

Symptoms can range from headaches to sore throats or vomiting.

However, bleeding from the mouth, nose or vagina, is also a possibility.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) say: "Humans usually become infected with Lassa virus through exposure to food or household items contaminated with urine or faeces of infected Mastomys rats.

"The disease is endemic in the rodent population in parts of West Africa.  

"Lassa fever is known to be endemic in Benin, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Togo and Nigeria, but probably exists in other West African countries as well.  

"Person-to-person infections and laboratory transmission can also occur, particularly in health care settings in the absence of adequate infection prevention and control measures."


They added: "Diagnosis and prompt treatment are essential.

"The overall case-fatality rate is 1%.

"Among patients who are hospitalized with severe clinical presentation of Lassa fever, case-fatality is estimated at around 15%.

"Early supportive care with rehydration and symptomatic treatment improves survival. 

"About 80% of people who become infected with Lassa virus have no symptoms. 1 in 5 infections result in severe disease, where the virus affects several organs such as the liver, spleen and kidneys."

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: UK News