Ebola Causes Chronic Illnesses in Those Who Manage to Recover/ CBS and USAMRIID

From CBS:

But unfortunately, Ebola survivors
do often develop certain chronic inflammatory conditions that affect the joints
and eyes, problems that can follow a survivor through the remainder of their
life. Dr. Amar Safdar, associate professor of infectious diseases and
immunology at NYU Langone Medical Center, told CBS News these chronic
conditions are a result of the body’s immune response.



He said Ebola survivors are at risk
for arthralgia, a type of joint and bone pain that can feel similar to
arthritis. Ebola survivors also frequently report complications with eyes and
vision, an inflammatory condition known as uveitis which can cause excess
tearing, eye sensitivity, eye inflammation and even blindness.

 “No one knows exactly why,” Safdar told CBS News.
“Certain infections or certain viruses have been known to cause uveitis.
It is treated with giving steroids and primarily something that will dilate the
pupil.”

As acknowledged by scientists at USAMRIID:  

Moreover, the quality of life of patients following infection and treatment may require additional development efforts or the combination of multiple therapeutic approaches. As seen in outbreaks, the clinical sequelae observed in patients that survive infection are severe and life changing. These observations emphasize the need for medical countermeasures that not only provide survival but also decrease morbidity and long-term pathological outcomes following infection.

UPDATE Nov 3:  ABC reporting from Sierra Leone: 

“We are seeing a lot of people with vision problems,” Dr. Margaret Nanyonga, a psycho-social support officer for WHO, said at a conference in Sierra Leone last week. “Some complain of clouded vision, but for others the visual loss is progressive. I have seen two people who are now blind.”

Approximately 50 percent of Ebola survivors she has treated in Kenema, Sierra Leone’s third-largest city, report declining health after fighting off the deadly virus, Nanyonga said. Besides deteriorating vision, they are complaining of body aches, chest pain, headaches and fatigue. This is consistent with symptoms experienced by survivors in previous outbreaks, she said.

There are very few scientific reports looking at the ongoing health problems of those who are cured of Ebola. In one small study, a majority of 29 people who survived a 1995 outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo reported a significant amount of joint pain, muscle aches and fatigue. They were still experiencing deteriorating health up to a year and a half after recovery, the researchers found. 

UPDATE Nov 9: According to the American Association of Blood Banks:

“Convalescence may be protracted and accompanied by arthralgia, orchitis, recurrent hepatitis, transverse myelitis, psychosocial disturbances or uveitis.” 

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