Lassa Fever: Epidemiology, Clinical Features, Diagnosis, Management and Prevention

Infect Dis Clin North Am. 2019 Dec;33(4):933-951. doi: 10.1016/j.idc.2019.08.002.


Lassa fever outbreaks West Africa have caused up to 10,000 deaths annually. Primary infection occurs from contact with Lassa virus-infected rodents and exposure to their excreta, blood, or meat. Incubation takes 2 to 21 days. Symptoms are difficult to distinguish from malaria, typhoid, dengue, yellow fever, and other viral hemorrhagic fevers. Clinical manifestations range from asymptomatic, to mild, to severe fulminant disease. Ribavirin can improve outcomes. Overall mortality is between 1% and 15%. Lassa fever should be considered in the differential diagnosis with travel to West Africa. There is an urgent need for rapid field-friendly diagnostics and preventive vaccine.

Keywords: Clinical features; Diagnosis; Epidemic; Epidemiology; Lassa fever; Nosocomial transmission; Prevention; Rodents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Africa, Western / epidemiology
  • Animals
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Humans
  • Lassa Fever / epidemiology*
  • Lassa Fever / virology
  • Murinae / virology
  • Risk Factors
  • Zoonoses