Ebola survivors experience health issues after the disease is gone, researchers find

The recent Ebola outbreak has passed, but researchers from the University of Liverpool's Institute of Translational Medicine recently conducted a study looking at problems survivors continue to have after suffering from the illness.

“The phenomenon of ‘Post-Ebola Syndrome’ is still not very well understood,” Dr .Janet Scot, a researcher who conducted interviews with Ebola survivors for the study, said. “This is due in part to the fact that, in the past, the disease’s high fatality rate has meant there haven’t been many survivors. Due to the scale of the last outbreak we now have access to more survivors who can help us understand more about the damage that this virus causes and the long term problems it causes.”

The University of Liverpool’s Institute of Translational Medicine researchers recently conducted a study of post-illness issues in Ebola survivors. The results from the study were recently published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

“Ebola has revealed to the world the fragility of the health systems in West Africa,” Dr. Calum Semple, another researcher on the project, said. “The impact of Ebola has been profound with 28,639 cases and 11,316 deaths. As interest in Ebola wanes, we must not overlook that most of the 17 thousand survivors in West Africa are experienced on-going health problems and that 12 thousand children have been orphaned. There has also been shocking secondary impact on other health and education services.”

The study, which interviewed 44 survivors, found that 70 percent of survivors experienced muscle and skeleton pain. Forty-eight percent said they had headaches, and 14 percent said they had issues with their eyesight.

“There has been mounting evidence of both mental and physical health problems in Ebola survivors after the virus is cleared from the bloodstream,” Scot said. “In some cases these health problems, such as damage to joints, brain and eyes, may be caused by Ebola virus persisting and causing damage in some of the compartments of the body that are less accessible to the immune system.”

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