In all societies, funerals are an important social and community ritual. However, in the case of diseases like Lassa fever and Ebola virus disease funerals can also be points of disease transmission. In most of the countries where Lassa fever cases occurs the preparation of corpses is as important as the burial itself, since these rituals allow the dead person to rejoin their ancestors and move successfully into the next life. It is usually close family and community members who prepare the corpse for burial. Safe and dignified burials are needed so that family members are not put at risk but important social obligations can be carried out. Because the safety precautions involved in the preparation of corpses who have died from Lassa disease is challenging, such burials usually have to be carried out by people who are strangers to the family of the dead person. Dignified burial requires understanding the needs of the various actors involved,including burial teams, relatives and community members so that those managing the burial can apply guidelines (NCDC, WHO) to prevent secondary transmissions, whilst also allowing for family members wishes to be observed.
Social sciences can provide information about local burial practices to ensure that outbreak control burial procedures are locally acceptable and therefore more effective. Most of the literature on this topic relates to the Ebola virus epidemic. However, as the two diseases require similar precautions at the point of burial, these insights are relevant to the case of Lassa fever.