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Camden patient dies from Lassa virus

PUBLISHED: 14:11 09 February 2009 | UPDATED: 15:55 07 September 2010

Tan Parsons A PATIENT who was treated in two Camden hospitals after contracting a tropical disease has died. The 66-year-old man, who has not been named, died in the Royal Free Hospital s high security infectious diseases unit at 4.30pm last Thursday from

Tan Parsons

A PATIENT who was treated in two Camden hospitals after contracting a tropical disease has died.

The 66-year-old man, who has not been named, died in the Royal Free Hospital's high security infectious diseases unit at 4.30pm last Thursday from complications caused by the illness Lassa fever, which he caught while travelling in Nigeria.

The patient came into contact with five members of staff at University College London Hospital in Euston before he was diagnosed and transferred to the Hampstead hospital, but health bosses insist any risk of the disease having spread is minimal. A spokesman for the Royal Free said: "The victim was from Hackney and was transferred from Homerton Hospital to UCLH before he was brought here.

"His family, who we believe are currently outside the UK, have been informed of his death."

Officers from the Health Protection Agency were working this week with staff at University College London Hospital and Homerton University Hospital to trace anyone who had come into contact with the dead man.

Lassa fever is caused by the Lassa virus and is endemic in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and the Central African Republic.

It is transmitted through the thousands of people who are infected in these countries each year and isolated cases have been seen in Europe and the USA.

Around eight in 10 people infected with the virus develop mild or no symptoms, but in a fifth of cases sufferers develop severe symptoms, sometimes including deafness, and in around two per cent of cases they die.

Other symptoms include fever, headache, sore throat, a cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and muscle pain.

The virus is spread by infected rats through their urine and droppings. There have been 10 confirmed cases of Lassa fever in the UK since 1970.


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