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Thursday, 23 March, 2000, 23:04 GMT
Tropical virus man dies

Mr Janeck was treated in isolation at a specialised unit
A British aid worker suffering from the highly infectious disease Lassa fever has died.

Ian Janeck caught the virus while working in Sierra Leone.

He was being treated in an isolation unit at the infectious diseases centre at Coppetts Wood Hospital in north London.

Although Mr Janeck's condition stabilised after he was given anti-viral therapy, he developed a chest infection and he deteriorated.

A spokeswoman at the hospital said he died of heart failure. His wife was at his bedside.

Mr Janeck, in his early 50s and from Chatham, Kent, was working on a contract for the Department for International Development in the West African state.

He was flown by air ambulance from Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, earlier this month with suspected malaria or typhoid, but was finally diagnosed as having Lassa fever after a battery of specialist tests.

Only 12 cases of Lassa fever have been diagnosed in North America and Europe since the virus was identified 30 years ago in Nigeria.

Victims of the rare virus suffer a high fever, headaches, diarrhoea, brain inflammation, nausea and internal bleeding. Anti-viral drugs can help but there is no cure and one in five victims dies.

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