Emergencies preparedness, response

2000 - Lassa fever in Germany

13 January 2000

Disease Outbreak Reported

The Ministry of Health of Bavaria has informed WHO that the diagnosis of Lassa fever in a 23-year-old female student has been confirmed by PCR and virus culture performed at the Bernard Nocht Institute in Hamburg.

The student reportedly had spent November and December in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana. She returned to Germany on 7 January via Lisbon, Portugal and was immediately admitted to a general hospital with fever and flu-like symptoms. Her condition deteriorated rapidly and after 4 days she was transferred to the Tropical Medicine Department of Würzburg Hospital where she is being treated in an isolation ward.

Although the risk of transmission to others is considered to be minimal (requires contact with blood or body fluids), possible contacts are being investigated. German authorities have issued notices to passengers who traveled on the same flight from Portugal to Germany asking them to contact health officials if they become ill. WHO is working with Portuguese health authorities to trace possible contacts during the student's travel to and in Portugal.