Imported Lassa fever--New Jersey, 2004

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2004 Oct 1;53(38):894-7.


Lassa fever is an acute viral illness caused by Lassa virus, which is hosted by rodents in the Mastomys natalensis species complex and rarely imported to countries outside of those areas in Africa where the disease is endemic. Lassa fever is characterized by fever, muscle aches, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, and chest and abdominal pain. Approximately 15%-20% of patients hospitalized for Lassa fever die from the illness; however, approximately 80% of human infections with Lassa virus are mild or asymptomatic, and 1% of infections overall result in death. On August 28, 2004, a man aged 38 years residing in New Jersey died from Lassa fever after returning from travel to West Africa. This report summarizes the clinical and epidemiologic investigations conducted by federal, state, and local public health agencies. The findings illustrate the need for clinicians and public health officials to remain alert to emerging infectious diseases and to institute appropriate measures to promptly identify and limit spread of unusual pathogens.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Africa, Western
  • Contact Tracing
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Humans
  • Lassa Fever / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • New Jersey / epidemiology
  • Travel