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In a patient transferred from Togo to Cologne, Germany, Lassa fever was diagnosed 12 days post mortem. Sixty-two contacts in Cologne were categorised according to the level of exposure, and gradual infection control measures were applied. No clinical signs of Lassa virus infection or Lassa specific antibodies were observed in the 62 contacts. Thirty-three individuals had direct contact to blood, other body fluids or tissue of the patients. Notably, with standard precautions, no transmission occurred between the index patient and healthcare workers. However, one secondary infection occurred in an undertaker exposed to the corpse in Rhineland-Palatinate, who was treated on the isolation unit at the University Hospital of Frankfurt. After German authorities raised an alert regarding the imported Lassa fever case, an American healthcare worker who had cared for the index patient in Togo, and who presented with diarrhoea, vomiting and fever, was placed in isolation and medevacked to the United States. The event and the transmission of Lassa virus infection outside of Africa underlines the need for early diagnosis and use of adequate personal protection equipment (PPE), when highly contagious infections cannot be excluded. It also demonstrates that larger outbreaks can be prevented by infection control measures, including standard PPE.


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