Saturday 11 July 2020

Dutch doctor dies of Lassa fever in Leiden, a second is being treated

A model of the Lassa virus. Image:

A Dutch doctor who was being treated at Leiden University Medical Center after developing Lassa fever in Sierra Leone has died from the disease.

The doctor was flown back to the Netherlands in strict isolation and admitted to the hospital, which has a major incident unit, last weekend. However, he died on November 23, the RIVM public health institute has confirmed.

A second Dutch doctor at the hospital in the west African country has also developed the disease and both are thought to have become infected by the same patient, the RIVM said. The second doctor is being treated in the isolation unit at Utrecht teaching hospital.

A local nurse, who also became infected, is being treated in Sierre Leone.

Both were working at the Madaga hospital in Sierra Leone for Norwegian charity Capacare International. The organisation said of deceased doctor that it ‘admired his knowledge, capacity and passion to improve access to surgical care in the country.’

Several other Dutch health care providers are working in the Sierra Leone hospital and all those who had contact with the two patients with Lassa fever were also brought back on a special flight.

Because of the early detection of contacts, there is little chance that the virus will spread in the Netherlands, the RIVM said.

According to news agency AFP, the doctor developed symptoms of the disease after operating on a pregnant woman.

Humans become infected with Lassa fever through contact with the excreta of infected rats or by close person-to-person contact.

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