In Africa, a man who received the Ebola vaccine recovered but recovered but recurred almost six months later, leading to 91 new cases before his death. The introduction adds evidence that the deadly virus may lurk in the body long after the onset of symptoms, that survivors need to be monitored to prevent the spread of their well-being.
It is believed that such recurrences are rare in the Democratic Republic of Congo after the outbreak of 2018-2020. This is the first case that has clearly shown that it has caused a large number of new cases. The New England Journal of Medicine published the details on Wednesday.
Earlier this month, scientists said a separate outbreak in Guinea now appears to be linked to events in West Africa that ended five years ago. The survivor may have kept the virus silent for years before spreading it.
“The most important message is that someone can get sick twice, Ebola, and the second illness can sometimes be worse than the first,” said Dr. Placid Mbala-Kingbeing of Kinshasa University, who helped study the Congo case.
As more and more Ebola outbreaks occur, “we have more and more survivors,” the risk of relapse increases.
Ebola outbreaks usually start when someone gets the virus from the wild and then spreads it through contact with body fluids or contaminants. Symptoms may include sudden fever, muscle aches, headache, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, and bleeding. Deaths range from 25% to 90%.
According to the medical journal, the case concerned a 25-year-old motorcycle taxi driver who was vaccinated in December 2018 after he was in contact with someone with Ebola. In June 2019, he developed symptoms and was diagnosed with the disease.
For some reason, the man never developed immunity or lost it in six months, said Michael Will, a virus expert at the Nebraska Medical Center, who helped investigate the case.
The man was treated and discharged into his bloodstream twice after a negative Ebola test. However, semen can contain the virus for more than a year, so men are advised to get tested regularly after recovery. The man underwent a negative semen test in August but did not return.
At the end of November, he developed symptoms again, asked for help from a health center, a traditional healer. After deteriorating, he was sent to a specialized Ebola treatment department, but died the next day.
Gay tests showed that the virus from his new disease was almost identical to his original disease, which meant that it was a relapse and not a new infection from another human or animal. Tests showed that the man had spread the virus to 29 other people, spreading it to 62 of them.
Earlier, it was discovered that two medical workers who received Ebola while treating patients in Africa had the virus long after their recovery. The Scottish nurse in his spinal fluid, and in his eyes the American doctor Ian Crozier. But these relapses were discovered quickly, they do not cause new outbreaks.
In Africa, they և men were all treated with antibodies during the initial infections. Antibodies are substances that the body prepares to fight the virus, but the most effective ones can take weeks to form. Giving them to Ebola patients is thought to boost the immune system, and studies suggest they improve survival. But relapses worry doctors that such patients may not develop a strong enough immune response on their own; they may be vulnerable to recurrences when the antibodies die. The researchers stressed that this is just a theory at the moment.
Several other viruses can lurk for a long time, causing problems later, such as chickenpox, which can become active again, causing curtains to form decades after the initial infection.
The news about the hidden Ebola tells us “absolutely nothing” that such a thing could happen to the bug caused by COVID-19, because “these are completely different viruses,” Will said.
Dr. Ibrahima Sose Fall, a scientist with the World Health Organization, agreed.
“We have not yet seen such a delay by people surviving the coronavirus,” he said. Even with Ebola, “after six months, most patients completely clear the virus.”
The biggest concern is better monitoring of survivors. There are more than 1,100 people in the Congo alone, and the WHO recommends monitoring for at least two years.
“We need to make sure the survivors are not stigmatized” to get the help they need to get any relapse cured quickly.
The Associated Press Health Science Department is supported by the Science Education Department of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The AP is solely responsible for all content.