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Case of Lassa fever challenges UK hospitals

This article was originally published in Clinica

Executive Summary

Testing to diagnose in the UK a rare, isolated case of a viral haemorrhagic fever had to be referred to the Health Protection Agency (HPA), after the standard battery of tests for diseases associated with African travel proved negative. Lassa fever was eventually diagnosed; the patient had returned from Nigeria in early January. Following admission to London's Homerton hospital on January 8, it was not until January 22 that the diagnosis was made, according to the HPA. "The Homerton carried out testing for a wide range of common infections associated with travel to Africa, all of which tested negative. Samples were [then] referred to the HPA," said the agency. Lassa fever is endemic to Nigeria, but infections have occurred in neighbouring West African countries; it is seen only rarely in the UK among travellers returning from the region.

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