JOHANNESBURG – The first case of Lassa fever in 15-years has been diagnosed in South Africa.

The patient fell ill on his return to KwaZulu-Natal after travelling to Nigeria.

He was treated in a Pietermaritzburg hospital but has since died.

The National Institute for Communicable diseases says it is currently tracing all possible contacts.

Lassa fever is a viral infection endemic to West African countries.

It’s transmitted from rats through direct contact or inhalation of the virus.

Person-to-person transmission is not common.

In 2007, a Nigerian citizen contracted the infection and became ill while in South Africa.

There were no secondary cases.

The NICD says there are no vaccines against Lassa Fever.

It kills around 5,000 people every year.

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