A Historical Look at the First Reported Cases of Lassa Fever: IgG Antibodies 40 Years After Acute Infection

Nell Bond Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Department of Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana; Tulane School of Medicine, Pediatrics Department, Section of Infectious Diseases, New Orleans, Louisiana; Tulane School of Medicine, Internal Medicine Department, Section of Infectious Diseases, New Orleans, Louisiana

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John S. Schieffelin Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Department of Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana; Tulane School of Medicine, Pediatrics Department, Section of Infectious Diseases, New Orleans, Louisiana; Tulane School of Medicine, Internal Medicine Department, Section of Infectious Diseases, New Orleans, Louisiana

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Lina M. Moses Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Department of Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana; Tulane School of Medicine, Pediatrics Department, Section of Infectious Diseases, New Orleans, Louisiana; Tulane School of Medicine, Internal Medicine Department, Section of Infectious Diseases, New Orleans, Louisiana

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Andrew J. Bennett Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Department of Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana; Tulane School of Medicine, Pediatrics Department, Section of Infectious Diseases, New Orleans, Louisiana; Tulane School of Medicine, Internal Medicine Department, Section of Infectious Diseases, New Orleans, Louisiana

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Daniel G. Bausch Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Department of Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana; Tulane School of Medicine, Pediatrics Department, Section of Infectious Diseases, New Orleans, Louisiana; Tulane School of Medicine, Internal Medicine Department, Section of Infectious Diseases, New Orleans, Louisiana

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Lassa fever is an acute and sometimes severe viral hemorrhagic illness endemic in West Africa. One important question regarding Lassa fever is the duration of immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody after infection. We were able to locate three persons who worked in Nigeria dating back to the 1940s, two of whom were integrally involved in the early outbreaks and investigations of Lassa fever in the late 1960s, including the person from whom Lassa virus was first isolated. Two persons had high titers of Lassa virus-specific IgG antibody over 40 years after infection, indicating the potential for long-term duration of these antibodies. One person was likely infected in 1952, 17 years before the first recognized outbreak. We briefly recount the fascinating stories of these three pioneers and their important contribution to our understanding of Lassa fever.

Author Notes

* Address correspondence to Daniel G. Bausch, 1430 Tulane Avenue, SL-17, New Orleans, LA 70112. E-mail: dbausch@tulane.edu

Financial support: Financial support for this study came from the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.

Authors' addresses: Nell Bond, Lina M. Moses, and Andrew J. Bennett, Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Department of Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, LA, E-mails: nbond@tulane.edu, lmoses2@tulane.edu, and andrew.j.bennett@gmail.com. John S. Schieffelin, Tulane School of Medicine, Pediatrics Department, Section of Infectious Diseases, New Orleans, LA, E-mail: jschieff@tulane.edu. Daniel G. Bausch, Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Department of Tropical Medicine and Tulane School of Medicine, Internal Medicine Department, Section of Infectious Diseases, New Orleans, LA, E-mail: dbausch@tulane.edu.

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