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PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2017 Jul 3;11(7):e0005711. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0005711. eCollection 2017 Jul.

Prevalence of Lassa Virus Disease (LVD) in Nigerian children with fever or fever and convulsions in an endemic area.

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Department of Paediatrics, Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Irrua, Edo State, Nigeria.
Institute of Lassa Fever Research and Control, Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Irrua, Edo State, Nigeria.
Bernhard-Nocht-Institute for Tropical Medicine, WHO Collaborating Centre for Arboviruses and Hemorrhagic Fever Reference and Research, Department of Virology, Bernhard-Nocht-Str. 74, Hamburg, Germany.
Malaria Research Laboratory, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Irrua, Edo State, Nigeria.
Department of Medicine, Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Irrua, Edo State, Nigeria.
Department of Organismic Biology, Broad Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America.
Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Clinical Sciences, College of Medicine, Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State, Nigeria.



Convulsions with fever in children are a common neurologic emergency in the tropics, and determining the contribution of endemic viral infections can be challenging. In particular, there is a dearth of data on the prevalence and clinical differentiation of Lassa virus disease (LVD) in febrile children in endemic areas of Nigeria, which has multiple lineages of the virus. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and presentation of LVD in febrile children with and without convulsions.


This was a prospective study of consecutive febrile children aged ≥1 month- 15 years admitted to the Children's Emergency Room of Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital over a period of 1 year. Febrile children with convulsions (Cases) were compared with those without convulsions (Controls). LVD was defined by the presence of a positive Lassa virus RT-PCR test. Rates were compared between groups using χ2 or Fisher's exact tests and p <0.05 taken as significant. 373 (40.9%) of 913 admissions had fever. Of these, 108/373 (29%) presented with convulsions. The overall prevalence of LVD was 13/373 (3.5%; 95% CI = 1.9%, 5.7%) in febrile admissions, 3/108 (2.8%) in Cases and 10/265 (3.8%) in Controls [(Odds Ratio (95% Confidence Interval) (OR (95% CI)) of LVD in Cases versus Controls = 0.73 (0.2, 2.7)]. Only vomiting (OR (95% CI) = 0.09 (0.01, 0.70)) and bleeding (OR (95% CI) = 39.56 (8.52, 183.7)) were significantly associated with an increased prevalence of LVD.


LVD is an important cause of fever, including undifferentiated fever in children in endemic areas, but it is not significantly associated with convulsions associated with fever. Its prevalence, and lack of clinical differentiation on presentation, underscores the importance of a high index of suspicion in diagnosis. Screening of febrile children with undifferentiated fever in endemic areas for LVD could be an important medical and public health control measure.

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