According to health experts, a person from Bedfordshire has died as a result of Lassa fever, bringing the total number of verified cases in England to three.
The virus has spread over West Africa, although it is not as deadly or contagious as Ebola. The Lassa virus kills 1% of those afflicted, according to the World Health Organization.
Lassa fever is spread by contact with infected rats' urine, faeces tainted foodor household goods. It can also be disseminated by virus-infected body fluids. The incubation period for the fever is 21 days.
Dr Susan Hopkins, UKHSA's top medical adviser, 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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In mild cases patients can suffer from symptoms like:
- Body aches
However, those that have a more severe condition can experience facial swelling, fluid in the lungs, low blood pressure, and bleeding from the mouth, nose, vaginal, or gastrointestinal system.
In worst case scenarios, Lassa fever can lead to acute viral haemorrhagic fever, which is a life-threatening illness, as well as edema—swelling due to 'excess fluid in the body tissue.'
The World Health Organization is not very optimistic on this subject and notes that one in five infections leads to 'severe damage to several organs such as the liver, spleen and kidneys.'