1997 - Absence of Lassa fever in Ghana
31 October 1997
Disease Outbreak Reported
From a press release issued jointly by Ministry of Health and the WHO Representative in Ghana:
On 25 September 1997, the Ministry of Health, Ghana was contacted by the Ghanaian Embassy in Bonn, Germany regarding a man who allegedly died of Lassa fever at Mainz main hospital. The deceased was identified by the hospital authorities as a 37-year male who had apparently arrived in Germany on a Ghana Airways flight.
The Ministry of Health, Ghana assured the Ghanaian Embassy that no case of Lassa fever had been reported in Ghana and thus the patient could not have been infected in Ghana. The Ministry of Health recommended that the origin of the patient be verified since his name did not sound Ghanaian nor did his supposed arrival via Ghana Airways mean that he had recently stayed in Ghana.
On 26 September the Mainz hospital authorities called a press conference and announced that tests conducted at the Tropical Disease Institute at the Bernhard Nocht Institute, Hamburg had dismissed Lassa fever as the cause of death of the man.
The press release was issued to assure Ghanaians and all visitors to Ghana that Lassa fever has never been detected in Ghana. Ever since the detection of the cases of Lassa fever in Nigeria, Ghanaian clinicians have been particular about examining cases of fever with haemorrhagic tendencies thoroughly. In addition the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research at the University of Ghana has often been called upon to support the national laboratory network in this work.
The Ministry of Health is confident that their disease surveillance system is very active and should a case of Lassa fever or any other unusual disease appear in the country it will be detected and contained.