By Doreen Ampofo.
Ghana will next year begin human trials for the new Lassa fever vaccine. The trials, which will be the first in the world, follow research which shows that Ghana may in the next 15 years experience a major outbreak of Lassa fever.
The hemorrhagic fever can cause fever, facial swelling, bleeding from mouth and nose and may be fatal in 21 days if not detected early for treatment.
The Navrongo Health Research Center which will be undertaking the human trials says the first phase will see the recruitment of about one hundred people and the main aim is to test the safety of the vaccine.
Director of the Center, Dr Patrick Ansah revealed this to journalists during a visit to the facility.
Doreen Ampofo reports that Lassa fever is an animal-borne, or zoonotic, acute viral illness which is endemic in West Africa with countries such as Benin, Nigeria and Guinea reporting outbreaks.
Although Ghana has not witnessed a major outbreak, the WHO says Ghana diagnosed Lassa fever for the first time in October 2011.
The fever can cause seizures, tremor, disorientation, and coma in the later stages. The Lassa fever vaccine, although tested in animals and proven to be safe, is yet to be tested on humans.
Director at the Navrongo Health Research Center, Dr. Patrick Ansah explained that Ghana was selected for the human trials, for many reasons.
”The Center has put in place the necessary resources to ensure that people who take the vaccine are protected,” he noted.
Dr. Ansah said Ghana needs to take advantage of the trials in order to be the first to benefit from the Lassa Fever Vaccine when it is accepted and rolled out.
Listen to the attached radio report: