Sunday January 21, 2018

Patients who Survive Ebola often Continue to Face Numerous Health Problems: Study

They have to face numerous health problems

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Laboratory technician Mohamed SK Sesay, who survived Ebola but saw many of his colleagues die and now has joint and muscle pains and loss of sight, holds the child of one of his work colleagues who died of the disease, in Kenema, Sierra Leone
Laboratory technician Mohamed SK Sesay, who survived Ebola but saw many of his colleagues die and now has joint and muscle pains and loss of sight, holds the child of one of his work colleagues who died of the disease, in Kenema, Sierra Leone. VOA
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  • Approximately 11,000 people died in the Ebola outbreak that hit West Africa from 2014 to 2016
  • Many battled vision problems and headaches that lasted for months
  • They show some quite distinct scarring patterns

Sierra Leone, West Africa, August 25, 2017: Patients who survive infection with the Ebola virus often continue to face numerous health problems. New research finds 80 percent of Ebola survivors suffer disabilities one year after being discharged from the hospital.

Approximately 11,000 people died in the Ebola outbreak that hit West Africa from 2014 to 2016; tens of thousands more who were infected survived.

Of those survivors, many battled vision problems and headaches that lasted for months.

Researchers at the University of Liverpool, the UK and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK are studying what’s called post-Ebola syndrome. One of the senior authors of the study, Dr. Janet Scott, says researchers are unsure why survivors experience such disabilities.

“I’m not sure we’ve quite gotten to the bottom of it yet,” Scott said. “The idea that you go through something as horrific as Ebola and just walk away from that unscathed was always a bit of a vain hope. So, it could be the inflammatory response. It could be damage to the muscles, and it could be the persistence of the virus in some cases. It could be all of those things.”

Scott says problems found in Ebola survivors’ eyes may provide clues to what is happening elsewhere in the body.

“They show some quite distinct scarring patterns,” she said. “There’s definitely scar tissue there. We can see it in the eyes. We can’t see it in the rest of the body, but I’m sure it’s in the rest of the body because the patients are coming in with this huge range of problems.”

The disabilities were reported in past cases of  Ebola outbreak, as well. However, because past outbreaks were smaller and there were few survivors, researchers were not able to do major, long-term studies on the after effects.

ALSO READ: Indian-origin Scientist part of the team that discovered natural Human Antibodies to fight Ebola viruses

This time, said Scott, “There are 5,000 survivors or thereabouts in Sierra Leone, and more in Guinea and Liberia. So, it’s an opportunity from a research point of view to find out the full spectrum of sequelae … the things that happen after an acute illness.”

Military Hospital 34 in Freetown, Sierra Leone, also took part in the study, helping to recruit 27 Ebola survivors and 54 close contacts who were not infected. About 80 percent of survivors reported disabilities compared to 11 percent of close contacts.

“The problems we’re seeing in Ebola survivors, this is not due just to the tough life in Sierra Leone. This is more than likely down to their experience in Ebola,” Scott said.

The research was led by Dr. Soushieta Jagadesh, who said: “a year following acute disease, survivors of West Africa Ebola Virus Disease continue to have a higher chance of disability in mobility, cognition, and vision.”

“Issues such as anxiety and depression persist in survivors and must not be neglected,” she added.

Scott hopes the findings can be used to provide better care in the event of another Ebola outbreak, no matter where it is. In the West Africa outbreak, the first goal was to contain the epidemic, followed by reducing the death rate.

“If I was treating an Ebola patient again, it has to be more than just surviving,” Scott said. “You have to try to make people survive well. Surviving with half your body paralyzed or with your vision impaired and being unable to care for your family or earn a living isn’t really enough. So, what I would like to do is to focus on that aspect to make people survive better and survive well.” (VOA)

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An enzyme has been identified to stop Ebola infection

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An enzyme has been identified to stop Ebola infection
An enzyme has been identified to stop Ebola infection. wikimedia commons

London, Dec 30, 2017: Raising hope for an effective drug to treat people with Ebola virus, researchers have found that an enzyme could help prevent the deadly virus from spreading.

The enzyme takes away the virus’ ability to copy itself and thus produce more virus particles and more infection, said the study published in the journal Molecular Cell.

‘When the Ebola virus enters the human cell, its only purpose is to copy itself, fast. First it must copy all its proteins, then its genetic material,” said Jakob Nilsson, Professor at University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

“But by inhibiting a specific enzyme we rob the Ebola virus of its ability to copy itself. And that may potentially prevent an Ebola infection from spreading,” Nilsson said.

There is currently no available treatment for Ebola virus infection.

However, the researchers behind the new study found what is called a new host factor for Ebola virus.

It can be described as a small part of the host’s — for example the human body’s — own cells, which the Ebola virus uses to copy itself and produce more infection.

The virus uses the host factor enzyme PP2A-B56 to start producing proteins.

So when PP2A-B56 is switched off, the virus’ ability to copy itself and produce more infection is stopped.

“When we inhibit the PP2A-B56 enzyme, we remove the first link in a long process, which ends with Ebola spreading. And we can tell that it works,” Nilsson said.

“The Ebola infection in cell cultures where we have inhibited the PP2A-B56 enzyme is 10 times smaller after 24 hours compared to infections where we have not inhibited this enzyme,” Nilsson added.

But because the researchers have so far focused on cell cultures, there is still work to be done before their results can be used to treat people infected with Ebola.

Initially the researchers hope to be able to test it on animals and, in the long term, develop a drug that inhibits the relevant enzyme. (IANS)