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Lassa fever in Guinea

12 Jul 2021

On 4 July 2021, the World Health Organization reported there have been two cases of Lassa fever in Guinea since May 2021:

  • the first case (from Yomou prefecture) was confirmed on 8 May and later died
  • a second case (from Beyla prefecture) was confirmed at Nzérékoré Regional Hospital on 17 June and died the same day

The sub-prefecture of Bheeta in Youmou prefecture is regarded as an active outbreak area, while Yomou-Centre, Péla, Yomou and Bignamou remain on alert.

Lassa fever is a type of viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF) endemic in parts of West Africa. Lassa virus is transmitted through excretions (urine or poo) from infected rodents (Mastomys rats). Transmission can also occur via body fluids of infected people. 

Advice for Travellers

The risk to travellers becoming infected or developing Lassa fever is extremely low, unless living in conditions of poor sanitation and overcrowding in rural areas where these rodents are usually found.

If you are travelling to an area with a Lassa fever outbreak, you should be aware of your risk of infection and transmission routes of Lassa virus which is most commonly through:

  • ingesting or breathing in tiny particles in the air if it has been contaminated with infected rodent excretions, for example during cleaning activities such as sweeping
  • touching objects soiled with infected rat excretions, and infecting open cuts or sores
  • eating food which has been contaminated with rat excretions 

Medical personnel travelling to work in an outbreak region must follow strict infection prevention control guidance.

If you return from a Lassa fever outbreak area, you should seek rapid medical attention by contacting NHS 24 (Scotland) or NHS 111 (rest of UK) for advice prior to attending UK medical facilities if you develop a high temperature (fever) and have:

  • returned to the UK within 21 days from a region or area with a known outbreak of Lassa fever
  • had contact with individuals infected with a VHF

For further information, see the fitfortravel Viral Haemorrhagic Fever page.