Germany sends experts to Nigeria to help contain Lassa fever outbreak

A German Epidemic Preparedness Team (SEEG) has been sent to Nigeria to aid the country in containing a current, severe outbreak of Lassa fever. Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Federal Ministry of Health have dispatched the team.

Flag Nigeria; Quelle: fotolia/railwayfx
© Quelle: fotolia/railwayfx

Among their activities are working with local researchers at Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH) in Nigeria's Edo state. There, they are deploying real-time DNA sequencing of Lassa viruses from the outbreak to help prevent the epidemic's spread.

Scientists from the Hamburg-based Bernhard Nocht Institute of Tropical Medicine helped to set up the ISTH lab around a decade ago and trained local personnel to use it. The ISTH is also the base for a unit of the European Mobile Laboratory Project, which researches hemorrhagic fever viruses such as Lassa and Ebola with the aim of improving treatment and control.

Germany's Epidemic Preparedness Teams are composed according to the needs of each mission. In addition to healthcare and diagnostic experts, they may also include specialists in water supply, sanitation, hygiene and logistics, as well as anthropologists. This reservoir of knowledge and variety of different viewpoints ensure that the team can take into account as many of the factors as possible that play a part in the spread of a disease.