Just months after the conclusion of an outbreak of Marburg virus in the Ashanti region of Ghana, the Ghana Health Service has issued a statement to confirm two cases of Lassa fever in the capital, Accra. The first confirmed case has sadly died, but the second, a contact of the fatal case, is reportedly “stable”. Contacts have been identified and precautionary measures are being taken. 

Information provided by the Health Service 

On 26th February 2023, the Ghana Health Service published a release to announce that it had been notified of two confirmed Lassa fever cases from the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research on 24th February 2023. The first case was a 40-year-old who had been unwell for “about two weeks” before death at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital. The contact of this case is “currently on admission but is very stable”. 56 contacts are being “followed up”.  

The statement indicates that Lassa fever is endemic in the country, which recorded its first case in 2011. The following public health measures are being implemented: 

  • Public Health Emergency Management committees at all levels (National, Regional, and District) have been activated 
  • Detailed investigation including environmental assessment has started 
  • Essential medications and logistics including PPE are being mobilised 
  • Contact tracing and management are ongoing 
  • Quarantine of contacts has been instituted and daily follow up by health staff is ongoing 
  • Strict Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) with barrier nursing has been instituted 
  • Sensitisation of health staff on Lassa fever has started 
  • Community sensitisation and education on Lassa fever are ongoing 
Lassa fever and a vaccine 

The statement suggests that the incubation period can be up to 21 days with transmission through direct contact with bodily fluids of a person who is infected. Furthermore, it identifies the lack of licensed vaccine, emphasising the importance of prevention and control measures.  

“The Ministry of Health and Ghana Health Service, in collaboration with our partners, wishes to assure the general public that all efforts are being made to contain this outbreak and prevent further spread of the virus.” 

Recent collaborations into Lassa fever vaccine research might have an application in this outbreak, such as the IAVI-CEPI or the DARPA-The Vaccine Group partnerships. We will hear more about Lassa fever and related viruses at the World Vaccine Congress in Washington this April. Join us by getting your tickets here.