Via her Superbug blog, Maryn McKenna is already on the case: A Patient in Minnesota Has Lassa Hemorrhagic Fever. (Don’t Panic.) Click through for the full post and a lot of links. Excerpt:
News from the Minnesota Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: A Minnesota traveler returning from Africa has been hospitalized with what the CDC confirms to be Lassa fever, a viral hemorrhagic fever that is often lumped together with Ebola hemorrhagic fever, though they are caused by different organisms.
Given the news from West Africa of the growing Ebola outbreak there — 127 cases including 83 deaths, according to the World Health Organization’s last posted update — I suspect there’s going to be some attention to this case, possibly even some alarm.
So, switching from Scary Disease Girl to Scary Disease Killjoy (which is sort of like Phoenix becoming Dark Phoenix, only without any planets blowing up): The Minnesota department says there’s no sign the disease has spread. The CDC says it’s not even likely to have infected passengers on the same airline.
And if you’re thinking, well, surely this has never happened before, a viral hemorrhagic fever coming to the US via airline: Actually, it’s happened seven times before. And no one caught Lassa from the infected travelers in any of those times — not from sitting next to them, not from living in the same house with them, not from having sex with them. It is a very bad disease. But it is not the threat we like to imagine.