Posted on 01ST MAR 2017
tagged Lassa Fever, West Africa; Nigeria; Benin

A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: Tue 28 Feb 2017
Source: Africa News [In French, trans Corr.SB, edited]

Lassa haemorrhagic fever has killed 2 people in Benin. This new epidemic comes after that of May 2016, when it caused the deaths of several people.

The Minister of Health of Benin, Mr Alassane Séidou, hosted a press conference in which he confirmed the presence of the Lassa virus on Beninese territory.

"After confirmation of a proven case of Lassa haemorrhagic fever in the St Martin de Papane hospital, the government backed by the Health and Technical Partners of the Health Sector, immediately started the response to the epidemic," said the minister according to local media (

However, the minister did not provide the details of this "response". Already, 61 cases of infected people have been registered in the north of the country.

Lassa fever is a viral infection of the same family as the Ebola and Marburg viruses. [Lassa fever virus is an arenavirus, not a filovirus so it is not related to Ebola and Marburg viruses. - Corr.SB]

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Lassa fever has caused about 5000 deaths in West Africa since it first appeared [was discovered; it was doubtless present for centuries. - Mod.TY] in northern Nigeria in 1969.

Communicated by:
ProMED-mail from HealthMap Alerts

[Lassa fever virus is endemic in much of northwest Africa, including Benin. The reappearance of Lassa fever cases in Benin, with 61 cases reported in the north of the country is of concern. The circumstances under which the 2 fatal Lassa fever patients in Benin acquired their virus infections are not stated. Because there can be person-to-person transmission via contact with viremic blood or secretions of infected patients, adequate patient isolation, and use of personal protection equipment for treatment of infected patients is essential for safety. Since Lassa fever has occurred in Benin before, one hopes that the unspecified response mentioned by the Minister will be effective in preventing new cases.

The virus is a member of the family Arenaviridae and causes acute hemorrhagic fever. It is transmitted to humans from contact with food or household items contaminated with excreta of multimammate rats (_Mastomys_ spp), the reservoir host.

Public education is an important measure to prevent infections in the home. Virus transmission can occur in houses or in hospital environments or laboratories in the absence of adequate infection control measures.

Images of _Mastomys_ mice can be seen at

Maps of Benin can be accessed at and - Mod.TY]

See Also
Lassa fever - West Africa (09): Nigeria, Benin 20160227.4054108
Lassa fever - West Africa (07): Benin 20160221.4037846
Lassa fever - West Africa (04): Benin 20160209.4007158
Lassa fever - West Africa (02): Benin 20160206.3999178
Lassa fever - West Africa: Nigeria, Benin 20160131.3980796
Lassa fever - Benin (02): (AK) 20141126.2992727
Lassa fever - Benin: (AK) 20141124.2984679