A recent study found that the Ebola virus could linger and take up residence in the lungs of those that are recovering from such an infection.
This could lead to quite serious issues. It could potentially account for respiratory human-to-human disease transmissions.
The Ebola virus disease is also known as the Ebola hemorrhagic fever. It is caused by the ebolaviruses. Its symptoms typically include fever, muscular pains, headaches, and a sore throat. They can lead to rashes, vomiting, and kidneys and liver failure.
- Ebola has a quite high mortality rate.
- About 25 to 90 percent of those infected with the Ebola virus die from the disease.
- In between 2013 and 2016, West Africa was faced with such a pandemic.
- The deadliest as of yet, it infected over 28,000 people.
- More than 11,000 of them died.
Following the end of the pandemic, the researchers took to once again study the disease. Quite a range of potential complications has already been documented. Now, a study went to reveal a new such issue.
This was first encountered back in October 2015. At the time, physicians detected interstitial pneumonia. This latter affected an Ebola-infected patient. The healthcare worker had been evacuated to Italy.
As such, a team of Italian scientists analyzed the case. They are part of the Rome Infectious Diseases Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute. Research on the matter was led by Giuseppe Ippolito.
Research results were released earlier this week. They were published in the PLOS Pathogens journal. The study was released on January 05 and titled as follows. “Detection of Viral RNA in Tissues following Plasma Clearance from an Ebola Virus Infected Patient”.
The research team based its data on two patients. One was the aforementioned healthcare. Another was also an Ebola patient that also exhibited lung problems. These were similar to pneumonia symptoms.
Blood was taken from this second patient. The first patient’s Ebola virus genetic material levels in the lungs were monitored.
Patient blood and lung plasma were also analyzed. Through these measures, the scientists kept track of certain, specific factors. As such, viral RNA fragments were monitored. These latter are considered Ebola replication markers.
According to study results, these markers have a longer than expected span in the lungs. More exactly, they remain in the lungs longer than in the blood. They were detected in lung tissue five days after they disappeared from plasma results.
As such, this finding could indicate the following fact. Instead of disappearing, the Ebola virus could linger in the lungs. It could potentially even replicate in there.
This would mean that recovering patient could still potentially be infectious. They might unwillingly and unknowingly pass on the Ebola virus.
Ali Zumla went to offer further specifications. Zumla was part of the study. He is also a UCL London Professor of Infectious Diseases and International Health.
Zumla pointed out that there is still much to find out about the ebolaviruses. There still is a need for information on their pathogenesis. The current study contributed to furthering such knowledge.
Ebola virus transmission is considered to take place through bodily fluids. However, as Zumla pointed out, that might not always be the case. The recent outbreak established this fact. Some people were infected without being in direct contact with the patients.
This fact, coupled with the study, might reveal a new factor. The Ebola virus could potentially be transmitted through respiration.
Further studies and more research will be needed. Still, the current study pointed out a new possibility. Future research will try to establish long-term potential lung damages. They might also establish whether lung infections are, in fact, a transmission factor.
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