Imported Lassa fever in Germany: surveillance and management of contact persons

Clin Infect Dis. 2003 May 15;36(10):1254-8. doi: 10.1086/374853. Epub 2003 May 9.


This study sought to assess the risk of secondary transmission after import of Lassa fever into Europe. A total of 232 persons exposed to a case of Lassa fever imported into Germany were identified. The level of exposure was determined for 157 persons (68%), and 149 (64%) were tested serologically. High-risk or close contact was reported by 30 (19%) of 157 persons. No symptomatic secondary infections were observed. However, Lassa virus-specific immunoglobulin G antibodies were detected in a serum sample obtained from a physician who examined the index patient on day 9 of illness. The physician received ribavirin prophylaxis and did not develop symptoms of Lassa fever. On the basis of these data, the contact was classified as having a probable secondary infection. The study indicates a low risk of transmission during the initial phase of symptomatic Lassa fever, even with high-risk exposures. The risk may increase with progression of disease and increasing virus load.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Viral / immunology*
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Chemoprevention
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology
  • Lassa Fever / epidemiology
  • Lassa Fever / immunology
  • Lassa Fever / prevention & control
  • Lassa Fever / transmission*
  • Lassa virus / drug effects
  • Lassa virus / immunology*
  • Ribavirin / therapeutic use
  • Risk Management


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Ribavirin