Clutching at Straws

Since January Nigeria has seen over 1000 suspected cases of Lassa fever and about 90 deaths. Researchers are scrambling to understand this year's unusually high toll.

Hard-to-diagnose Lassa often causes only mild symptoms, but is deadly. And like many diseases that present in poorer countries, research has been slow, writes Charlie Weller, head of vaccines for the Wellcome Trust. There is no Lassa vaccine, and testing is confined to specialized labs.

Organizations like CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations) and WHO are accelerating research and vaccine production in the coming years. In the meantime, health systems must be equipped to identify outbreaks early.

BBC (Commentary)

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