Lassa hemorrhagic fever is a disease
that is endemic in West Africa, where every year it
is estimated to routinely infect 300,000 to 500,000
people per year and cause approximately 5,000 deaths.
During some seasons, the case-fatality rate can reach
50%. The Lassa fever virus, which is normally spread
by a single species of West African rodent, is considered
to be a potential bioweapon which could be used against
countries on other continents. Led by Tulane virologist Dr. Robert F. Garry, the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Consortium, or VHFC (http://vhfc.org), has been studying Lassa fever in West Africa for many years.
Under a biodefense challenge grant awarded
by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and with subsequent additional NIH support, the VHFC has developed
an ELISA test kit and is developing other tests and Lassa-related
products using new recombinant viral proteins and monoclonal
The ELISA kits are manufactured by VHFC member Corgenix Medical Corporation and have successfully completed initial clinical
testing to diagnose Lassa fever in Sierra Leone. A Corgenix news release describing the Lassa ELISA test kit can be found on the Corgenix Web site here: Corgenix Release 1Apr2014.
believes that the new VHFC diagnostic and detection products
could have a significant impact on health care in West
Africa and also fill a critical gap in bioterrorism