Risks of Lassa fever

Learn what the risks of Lassa fever are and who is most at risk.

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The risk of getting Lassa fever

The risk to Canadians of getting the Lassa virus is low. No cases of Lassa fever have been reported in Canada, but travel-related cases have been identified elsewhere in North America.

It’s rare to find Lassa virus in other areas of the world. If precautions are taken, there’s low risk of getting Lassa fever even in countries where the disease is present.

Who is most at risk

People living in areas of West Africa where the Lassa virus has been confirmed are most at risk. People exposed to the rat that transmits the infection also have a higher risk of getting Lassa fever.

The risk of complications

Complications from Lassa fever may include:

  • deafness
  • seizures
  • miscarriage in late pregnancy, often in the third trimester
  • death

Permanent hearing loss is the most common complication of Lassa fever, occurring in about 1 out of 3 cases. It can develop from both mild and serious cases and isn’t prevented by drug treatment.

Lassa fever is fatal for only about 1% of infected people.

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