Ebola: Will it Find the US as Inhospitable as Lassa Fever Did?

While the press is speculating on the ability of the Ebola virus to be imported into the US--a fear heightened by the infection of two Americans--I think it is important to remember that Lassa Fever, Ebola's fellow traveler, has trod this ground before. 

Lassa Fever is a hemorrhagic fever endemic in West Africa and spread via rodent urine and through body fluids. It kills about 5000 people yearly in Africa and, although death is rare, it serves as a prototype of what to do with imported Ebola cases. Bottom line: situational awareness coupled with strict infection control.

Recent Lassa importations occurred in New Jersey in 2004, my home of Pennsylvania in 2010, and Minnesota in 2014. In total, approximately 7 cases of Lassa Fever have been identified in travelers in the US. In all cases, no symptomatic secondary transmission were identified. 

While Ebola is a horrific disease and a serious concern in Africa, should it make itself to the US in a traveler incubating the virus, it will find the US as inhospitable as its weaker fellow gang member, Lassa Fever, has repeatedly learned.