Lassa fever risk factors

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Risk calculators and risk factors for Lassa fever risk factors

Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Ammu Susheela, M.D. [2]


Individuals at risk are those who live or visit areas with a high population of Mastomys rodents infected with Lassa virus or are exposed to infected humans. Hospital staff are not at great risk for infection as long as protective measures are taken.

Risk Factors in the Development of Lassa Fever

The following are considered risk factors for developing Lassa fever:

  • Travel to endemic region (West Africa)
  • Exposure to infected individuals
  • Exposure to rodents (Mastomys natalensis rat/mouse) or contaminated household items (including food)
  • Occupational exposure in healthcare settings

Risk Factors in the Development of Lassa Fever-Associated Complications and Death

Level of Risk Upon Exposure

  • Individuals at greatest risk of Lassa virus infection are those who live in or visit endemic regions, including Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and Nigeria and have exposure to the multimammate rat. Risk of exposure may also exist in other west African countries where Mastomys rodents exist. Hospital staff are not at great risk for infection as long as protective measures and proper sterilization methods are used. [1]
Level of risk related to exposure to a patient with Lassa fever
High Risk
▸ Exposure from a percutaneous injury (i.e. needlestick or cut with a sharp object) to blood, tissue or other body fluids that are potentially infectious (e.g: urine, vomitus or stool).
▸ Exposure from direct unprotected contact with potentially infectious material (e.g: touching vomitus with an ungloved hand).
Mucosal exposure (eg. of eyes, nose or mouth) to splashes or droplet of potentially infectious blood and body fluid or sexual contact with a symptomatic partner.
Low Risk
▸ Sharing a room or sitting in a vehicle within 6 feet (i.e. coughing distance) of a potentially infectious person without direct contact with a potentially infectious material.
▸ Providing routine medical care while using personal protective equipment (PPE) appropriately.
▸ Routine cleaning and laundry of contaminated linens and surfaces while using personal protective equipment (PPE) appropriately.
▸ Transport of a potentially infectious patient or specimen without direct contact with potentially infectious material.
▸ Handling of clinical specimen while using personal protective equipment (PPE) appropriately.


  1. "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention".