Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness caused by Lassa virus (LASV), which is endemic throughout much of West Africa. The virus primarily circulates in the Mastomys natalensis reservoir and is transmitted to humans through contact with infectious rodents or their secretions; human-to-human transmission is documented as well. With the exception of Dengue fever, LASV has the highest human impact of any haemorrhagic fever virus. On-going outbreaks in Nigeria have resulted in unprecedented mortality. Consequently, the World Health Organization (WHO) has listed LASV as a high priority pathogen for the development of treatments and prophylactics. Currently, there are no licensed vaccines to protect against LASV infection. Although numerous candidates have demonstrated efficacy in animal models, to date, only a single candidate has advanced to clinical trials. Lassa fever vaccine development efforts have been hindered by the high cost of biocontainment requirements, the absence of established correlates of protection, and uncertainty regarding the extent to which animal models are predictive of vaccine efficacy in humans. This review briefly discusses the epidemiology and biology of LASV infection and highlights recent progress in vaccine development.
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The Jenner Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX3 7DQ, UK; Laboratory of Virology, Division of Intramural Research, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Rocky Mountain Laboratories, Hamilton, MT, USA.
Animals, Humans, Lassa virus, Lassa Fever, Viral Vaccines, Murinae