Lassa fever: Patient dies at Bedfordshire hospital
A person being treated for Lassa fever in the East of England, has died, a hospital trust has confirmed.
The patient died from the acute viral illness at a hospital run by the Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said the person died from a confirmed case of the animal-borne disease, which is endemic in parts of West Africa.
It said the risk to the public was “very low”.
The death comes as the third case of Lassa fever was identified in the UK in the last few days.
All three cases were within the same family and were linked to recent travel to West Africa, said Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at UKHSA.
The cases are the first of the disease to be confirmed in the UK in more than a decade.
“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.”
A spokesperson for the UKHSA 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.”
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 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.”
Before the three recent cases, eight cases of Lassa fever had been identified in the UK since 1980.
The recent cases are the first of the disease to be confirmed in the UK since 2009.
Dr Hopkins 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.”