n African Journal of Laboratory Medicine - Molecular confirmation and phylogeny of Lassa fever virus in Benin Republic 2014–2016 - research

Volume 8 Number 1
  • ISSN : 2225-2002
  • E-ISSN: 2225-2010



Background: The changing epidemiology of the Lassa virus from endemic areas to other parts of West Africa has been reported. However, there have been no documented Lassa fever transmission chains in the Benin Republic. Two outbreaks of Lassa fever (November 2014 and January 2016) in the Benin Republic were characterised by a high number of deaths (more than 50%) among 27 confirmed and other unconfirmed cases.
Objectives: We report the detection, confirmation and relatedness of the Lassa virus strains from the Benin Republic with other isolates within the West African Sub-region.
Methods: A total of 70 blood samples (16 from 2014 and 54 from 2016) from suspected cases with signs and symptoms suggestive of viral haemorrhagic fever were received for molecular analysis at the Centre for Human and Zoonotic Virology, College of Medicine, University of Lagos and the Lagos University Teaching Hospital. With the detection of the Lassa virus RNA by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, sequencing and phylogenetic analyses were performed using the Sanger dideoxy sequencing technology platform and the MEGA6 software.
Results: S segments of the Lassa virus RNA genome were detected in 5 (7.1%) of the 70 samples analysed. Sequencing and a phylogenetic tree construction confirmed that the strain of Lassa virus had close relationships with strains previously isolated from Nigeria.
Conclusion: We confirmed the presence of the Lassa virus in the Benin Republic, with 2 strains having molecular epidemiological links with Lineage I and II strains from Nigeria. To reduce the likelihood of outbreaks, there is a need for heightened awareness and strengthened surveillance systems about Lassa fever, particularly in the sub-region.

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