A Deeper Definition of Lassa Fever

A 2018 surge in Lassa virus cases in Nigeria led the Federal Medical Centre in Owo to set up a special Lassa ward—and to launch a prospective cohort study of 510 hospitalized Lassa fever patients.

The researchers documented patients’ baseline characteristics and their outcomes, then used statistical methods to explore associations between these characteristics and mortality. They identified several: Age, clinical deterioration (scored with NEWS2), kidney dysfunction (KDIGO stage), liver damage (plasma ALT levels), and viral load (RT-PCR Ct value) were all associated with risk of death. 

The findings could inform trial designs for treatments—such as several antiviral and immunotherapies already considered promising candidates. The researchers also suggest that, by using a composite outcome (mortality and worsening kidney function), such trials could require fewer participants.

 The Lancet Global Health

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