Last updated: 12:32 PM ET, Thu May 28 2015

U.S. Traveler Dies from Lassa Fever After Visiting Africa

Impacting Travel | Donald Wood | May 28, 2015

U.S. Traveler Dies from Lassa Fever After Visiting Africa

PHOTO: Microscopic view of the lassa virus. (via Wiki Images)

The Ebola outbreak caused fear for travelers who love to or want to visit Africa, but another rare form of illness—called Lassa fever—has made its way to the United States in the form of a deceased patient who visited Liberia.

According to a statement from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a person who had recently returned to the country from a visit to Liberia and Morocco passed away Monday from complications associated with the rare Lassa fever.

The unidentified person traveled from Liberia to Morocco and then on to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. After landing on May 17, the person went to a New Jersey hospital the next day for an examination, but was sent home without informing doctors and nurses that he had traveled to Africa.

On May 21, the victim returned to the hospital when symptoms worsened and was admitted and transferred to a center that deals with viral hemorrhagic fevers. While tests for Ebola and other viral fevers were negative, it was determined that the patient had Lassa fever. After being moved to isolation, the person passed away Monday morning.

Fortunately for those in the United States, the disease is found in West Africa and is extremely difficult to transmit from human to human, according to The disease is rarely seen in this country, and this is only the sixth known case of Lassa fever in the U.S. since 1969.

While rare in the United States, there are 100,000 to 300,000 cases of Lassa fever each year, and about 5,000 deaths related to illness. The CDC is working to figure out who the person came in contact with and ensure no one else is infected.


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