Lassa fever is a hemorrhagic viral disease endemic to West Africa. Usually, each year sees only a smattering of cases reported, but hospitalized patients risk a 15% chance of death.
Responding to fears that a 10-fold surge in cases in Nigeria in 2018 signaled an incipient outbreak, HPRU EZI PhD student Liana Kafetzopoulou and others performed metagenomic nanopore sequencing directly from samples from 120 patients.
Results showed no strong evidence of a new strain emerging nor of person-to-person transmission; rather, rodent contamination was the main source. To prevent future escalation of this disease, we need to understand what triggers the irruption of rodents into human dwellings.
For the full article, entitled: 'Metagenomic sequencing at the epicenter of the Nigeria 2018 Lassa fever outbreak', see the January 2019 issue of: Science Magazine.