Trend of Lassa fever cases and factors associated with mortality in Liberia, 2016 – 2021: a secondary data analysis

Author: Emmanuel Dwalu


Emmanuel Dwalu, Ralph Weah Jetoh, Bode Ireti Shobayo, Irene Pewu, Fahn Taweh, Himiede Wede Wilson-Sesay, Godwin Etim Akpan, Fulton Shannon, Babalola Obafemi Joseph,, Chukwuma David Umeokonkwo, Peter Adewuyi, Maame Amo-addae, Thomas Knue Nagbe, Julius Gilayeneh, Jane Amanda MaCauley

Journal details:

Pan African Medical Journal

Pan African Medical Journal. 2024;47:22. [doi: 10.11604/pamj.2024.47.22.42156]

Publication Date: January 19, 2024



Introduction: lassa fever (LF) is endemic in Liberia and is immediately reportable. Suspected cases are confirmed at the National Public Health Reference Laboratory. However, there is limited information on the trend and factors associated with mortality. We described the epidemiological characteristics of LF cases and determined factors associated with mortality in Liberia from 2016 to 2021.

Methods: we reviewed 867 case-based LF surveillance data from 2016 to 2021 obtained from the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL). The cases that met the suspected LF case definition were tested with RT-PCR. Using Epi Info We conducted univariate, bivariate, and multivariate and analysis. We calculated frequencies, proportions. Positivity rate, case fatality rate, and factors associated with LF mortality using chi square statistics and logistics regression at 5% level of significance.

Results: eighty-five percent (737/867) of the suspected cases were tested and 26.0% (192/737) were confirmed LF positive. The median age of confirmed LF cases was 21(IQR:12-34) years. Age 10-19 years accounted for 24.5% (47/192) and females 54.2% (104/192). Bong 33.9% (65/192), Grand Bassa 31.8% (61/192), and Nimba counties, 21.9% (42/192) accounted for most of the cases. The median duration from symptom onset to hospital admission was 6 (IQR:3-9) days. A majority, 66% (126/192) of the cases were reported during the dry season (October-March) and annual incidence was highest at 12 cases per 1,000,000 population in 2019 and 2020. The overall case fatality rate was 44.8%. Non-endemic counties, Margibi, 77.8% and Montserrado, 66.7% accounted for the highest case fatality rate (CFR), while 2018, 66.7% and 2021, 60.0% recorded the highest CFR during the period. Age ≥30 years (aOR=2.1,95% CI:1.08-4.11, p=0.027) and residing in Grand Bassa County (aOR=0.3, 95% CI:0.13-0.73, p=0.007) were associated with LF mortality.

Conclusion: lassa fever was endemic in three of the fifteen counties of Liberia, case fatality rate remained generally high and widely varied. The high fatality of LF has been reported to the NPHIL and is currently being further investigated. There is need to continuously train healthcare workers, especially in non-endemic counties to improve the LF treatment outcome.