Original Research

Molecular confirmation of Lassa fever imported into Ghana

Joseph H.K. Bonney, Edward O. Nyarko, Sally-Ann Ohene, Joseph Amankwa, Ralph K. Ametepi, Shirley C. Nimo-Paintsil, Badu Sarkodie, Prince Agbenohevi, Michael Adjabeng, Nicholas N.A. Kyei, Samuel Bel-Nono, William K. Ampofo
African Journal of Laboratory Medicine | Vol 5, No 1 | a288 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajlm.v5i1.288 | © 2016 Joseph H.K. Bonney, Edward O. Nyarko, Sally-Ann Ohene, Joseph Amankwa, Ralph K. Ametepi, Shirley C. Nimo-Paintsil, Badu Sarkodie, Prince Agbenohevi, Michael Adjabeng, Nicholas N.A. Kyei, Samuel Bel-Nono, William K. Ampofo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 December 2014 | Published: 25 April 2016

About the author(s)

Joseph H.K. Bonney, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana
Edward O. Nyarko, 37 Military Hospital, Public Health Division, Accra, Ghana
Sally-Ann Ohene, World Health Organization Ghana Country Office, Accra, Ghana
Joseph Amankwa, Disease Surveillance Department, Ghana Health Service, Accra, Ghana
Ralph K. Ametepi, 37 Military Hospital, Public Health Division, Accra, Ghana
Shirley C. Nimo-Paintsil, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana
Badu Sarkodie, Disease Surveillance Department, Ghana Health Service, Accra, South Africa
Prince Agbenohevi, 37 Military Hospital, Public Health Division, Accra, Ghana
Michael Adjabeng, Disease Surveillance Department, Ghana Health Service, Accra, South Africa
Nicholas N.A. Kyei, 37 Military Hospital, Public Health Division, Accra, South Africa
Samuel Bel-Nono, 37 Military Hospital, Public Health Division, Accra, Ghana
William K. Ampofo, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana


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Abstract

Background: Recent reports have shown an expansion of Lassa virus from the area where it was first isolated in Nigeria to other areas of West Africa. Two Ghanaian soldiers on a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Liberia were taken ill with viral haemorrhagic fever syndrome following the death of a sick colleague and were referred to a military hospital in Accra, Ghana, in May 2013. Blood samples from the soldiers and five asymptomatic close contacts were subjected to laboratory investigations.

Objective: We report the results of these investigations to highlight the importance of molecular diagnostic applications and the need for heightened awareness about Lassa fever in West Africa.

Methods: We used molecular assays on sera from the two patients to identify the causativeorganism. Upon detection of positive signals for Lassa virus ribonucleic material by two differentpolymerase chain reaction assays, sequencing and phylogenetic analyses were performed.

Results: The presence of Lassa virus in the soldiers’ blood samples was shown by L-gene segment homology to be the Macenta and las803792 strains previously isolated in Liberia, with close relationships then confirmed by phylogenetic tree construction. The five asymptomatic close contacts were negative for Lassa virus.

Conclusions: The Lassa virus strains identified in the two Ghanaian soldiers had molecular epidemiological links to strains from Liberia. Lassa virus was probably responsible for the outbreak of viral haemorrhagic fever in the military camp. These data confirm Lassa fever endemicity in West Africa.


Keywords

Lassa fever; Polymerase Chain Reaction

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