Pathologic and virologic study of fatal Lassa fever in man

D. H. Walker, J. B. McCormick, K. M. Johnson, P. A. Webb, G. Komba-Kono, L. H. Elliott, J. J. Gardner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

173 Scopus citations


Postmortem examination of 21 virologically documented cases of Lassa fever, including 6 complete autopsies, was performed as part of a field study of community-acquired Lassa fever in Sierra Leone. The most consistently observed lesions were hepatocellular, adrenal, and splenic necrosis and adrenal cytoplasmic inclusions. Neither these lesions, nor other milder and less constantly observed lesions such as myocarditis, renal tubular injury, and interstitial pneumonia, appeared severe enough to explain the cause of death in Lassa fever. The central nervous system (CNS) contained no specific lesions. Viral titrations demonstrated high viral content in liver, lung, spleen, kidney, heart, placenta, and mammary gland. Clinical laboratory data included elevation of hepatic enzymes, creatine phosphokinase (CPK), and blood urea nitrogen (BUN). Because of the paucity of pathologic lesions in spite of widely disseminated viral infection, further investigation of humoral inflammatory mechanisms is indicated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)349-356
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 20 1982
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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