Nigeria’s largest Lassa fever outbreak sparked by rats
Analysis calms fears that the virus had mutated into a super-bug that could move more easily from person to person.
Rats fuelled the largest outbreak of deadly Lassa fever in Nigeria this year, according to the most extensive and rapid genomic analysis of the Lassa virus conducted thus far.
The study, published on 17 October in the New England Journal of Medicine, eases fears that Lassa had mutated into a super-bug that was spreading swiftly between people. Instead, the viral genomes harvested from 220 patients were surprisingly diverse, indicating that most people had not acquired their infections from someone else.
The unprecedented speed of this analysis has helped officials to combat the spread of Lassa fever, and the virus’s genetic information will assist researchers as they develop vaccines against the illness. About 514 people fell ill with the disease between January through the end of September, and 134 of them have died.
By Amy Maxmen, Nature News