Sunday, March 6, 2011

Lassa Fever Research in Sierra Leone funded by the DOD

In southeastern Sierra Leone there is an outpost of the US government's "war on terror" focusing of simple diagnosis of Lassa fever.  The project has a budget of 40 million dollars and it involves Tulane University.  Lassa fever is named after a Nigerian town where it was first identified in 1969.  Lassa is "category A" diseases in the US and it is considered a potential bio terrorism threat.  Lassa is found in Mastomys Natalensis rodents and kills about 5,000 people annually.  The project is funded by the bio-defense budget which increased dramatically following the anthrax attacks many years ago.  A rapid cheap test for the virus is being sought by the defense department because it could help to identify outbreaks in the US early.  However, the rapid test could hugely benefit places in Africa where the disease is already present. 
Hannah Harrison

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