JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – South Africa has reported its first case of Lassa fever in 15 years. After returning to KZN KwaZulu-Natal from Nigeria, the patient became ill. He was treated in a Pietermaritzburg hospital but died later that day. According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), all possible contacts are being tracked down. Lassa fever is a viral infection that is only found in West African countries. It is spread by rats via direct contact or inhalation of the virus.Person-to-person transmission is unusual.
A Nigerian citizen contracted the infection and became ill in South Africa in 2007. There were no additional cases.According to the NICD, there are no vaccines available to protect against Lassa Fever.Every year, it kills approximately 5,000 people.