In the first Lassa case in the United States in four
years, an unnamed patient was admitted to a Minnesota hospital on
Monday suffering from fever and confusion, the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement.
Blood samples sent to CDC tested positive for Lassa fever on
The patient was recovering and in stable condition on Friday, the
While the likelihood of human-to-human transmission of the virus is
"considered extremely low," the CDC was reaching out to airlines to
identify passengers and crew who had close contact with the infected
individual. Once found, the people will be notified by state and
local health departments.
"People will not get this infection just because they were on the
same airplane or in the same airport," said CDC epidemiologist
Barbara Knust in the statement. "Casual contact is not a risk factor
for getting Lassa fever."
Lassa fever is a severe viral disease common in West Africa but
rarely seen in the United States.
In West Africa, as many as 300,000 cases of Lassa fever are reported
every year, with about 5,000 ending in death, the CDC said. The
virus is carried by rodents and transmitted to humans through
contact with urine or feces.
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The last U.S. case was reported in Pennsylvania in 2010, the
statement said. Previously, seven other cases, all travel related,
were identified in the United States.
"This imported case is a reminder that we are all connected by
international travel. A disease anywhere can appear anywhere else in
the world within hours," CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a
While Lassa fever can cause hemorrhagic symptoms in infected
individuals, it is not related to the Ebola virus, which recently
resurged in West Africa, the CDC said.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg; editing by David Gregorio)
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