Lassa Virus Isolation from Mastomys natalensis Rodents during an Epidemic in Sierra Leone

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Science  19 Jul 1974:
Vol. 185, Issue 4147, pp. 263-265
DOI: 10.1126/science.185.4147.263


Lassa fever is a severe febrile illness of man, first recognized in West Africa in 1969. During an epidemic in Sierra Leone, Lassa virus was isolated for the first time from wild rodents of Mastomys natalensis. A high prevalence of infected Mastomys was found in houses occupied by patients with Lassa fever. The data presented provide the first demonstration of an extra-human cycle of Lassa virus transmission and suggest that rodent control may be an effective method of limiting the disease.