Fighting Lassa Fever with big data

Researchers are of the opinion that Lassa fever as well can be treated with big data or at most the effect of the transmission should be prevented from spreading. Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness caused by Lassa virus, a member of the arenavirus family of viruses. It is transmitted to humans from contacts with food or household items contaminated with rodent excreta. The disease is endemic in the rodent population in parts of West Africa. According to WHO, Control measures are being implemented, including field investigation, enhanced surveillance, case management, infection prevention and control, contact tracing and follow-up, and social mobilization.


Big Data is identified as an important field of research, contributing to provide innovations in areas, such as: Food production, food security, food safety and integrity, Food-related public health issues, Biobased and Circular economy, Green cities and planet earth management. The development of embedded systems. And finally give advice for policy ministries and small and large companies.

Big Data Technology represents a disruptive innovation that market orientated organisations will use to drive competitive advantage and governmental bodies to set and reach policy targets. The value of Big Data lies in the insight that organisation can draw from it, rather than in the information itself. Big Data offers huge opportunities. Linking socio-economic and physical data, for example, may generate entirely new insights and market opportunities. However there are also risks, for example those related to regulatory hazards and issues such as ownership and privacy. To secure value from Big Data Technologies, organisations need a holistic and strategic plan for identifying opportunities and overcoming hurdles and managing risks. For example, in 2014, during the last outbreak of avian influenza in the Netherlands, tens of thousands of chickens were culled to prevent the virus from spreading. There is also the chance that the virus will transform inavia such a way that it can be transmitted between people, leading to a global flu epidemic.

What Researchers at Wageningen did was to deciphered the genetic code of the virus and combined it with big data, masses of information about virus genealogies.  In doing so, they quickly ascertained the sources of the avian flu outbreak. This information is vital for effectively fighting the disease, and is one way that Wageningen UR works to improve quality of life.

According to Dr Celestine Iwendi, Director, WSN Consults, with due consultation, the company can help to develop strategies for implementation and validation and also to become instrumental in bringing Big Data technologies forward to fight lassa fever, while supporting the (inter)national Agri & Food economy and policy makers to set and realize their (inter)national agenda’s.


WSN Consults

Wageningen UR