Suspected Lassa Fever Patient Treated in Atlanta
March 14, 2016 -- A person suspected of having Lassa fever has been admitted to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
Lassa fever is a viral disease that occurs mainly in West Africa and is rare in the United States. The death rate for hospitalized patients with the disease is 10 to 20 percent, according to Emory, NBC News reported.
The patient is an American physician assistant who was working in Togo, West Africa for a missionary group. The patient was admitted to the hospital Saturday morning and is currently being treated for "symptoms consistent with a fever-related illness," Emory said.
The hospital was asked by the State Department to admit the patient to the its Serious Communicable Diseases Unit, where four Ebola patients were treated in 2014, NBC News reported.
Lassa is spread through the urine and droppings of a type of rat in certain parts of Africa. It can also be spread by infected people, "but only through direct contact with fluids. It cannot be transmitted through casual contact, and is not an airborne virus," according to Emory.
Symptoms of Lassa fever typically include fever, headache, fatigue and weakness. Lassa has been linked with Ebola in the past, but "Lassa fever is less likely than Ebola to spread from person to person and is far less deadly," Emory said, NBC News reported.