E. Ebola Update
A few years ago, the news was dominated by reports of the serious Ebola outbreak in Africa. This year, Ebola has taken a back seat to a newer, scarier virus. A virus that I will talk about at the end of April (hint: it begins with Z).
But that doesn’t mean that our Ebola problems have gone away. Or that the fight is over. Just check out some of the latest news on Ebola:
Ebola outbreaks still occur
While the epidemic is considered over, scientists have expected that Ebola will still occasionally raise its ugly head. They aren’t wrong. Flare-ups are continuing into 2016:
- January 2016, Ebola is detected in a patient in Sierra Leone
- March 2016: Ebola flare-ups in Guinea
- April 2016, Ebola shows its ugly head in Liberia
Once thought to be a low priority for vaccine development, there were 28, 647 cases of Ebola reported between 2013-2015; 11, 322 died. This prompted people to rethink the importance of an Ebola vaccine, and Ebola vaccine research saw a big spike.
Several companies and government sponsored researchers raced to develop a vaccine and a potential vaccine was put through clinical trials faster than any before it. This experimental, but so far highly effective, vaccine is now being used to treat people who come in contact with Ebola patients.
We continue to learn about this virus
Ebola is a difficult virus to study. It is astonishingly quick and highly lethal. But the newest Ebola survivors are giving us more information.
For example, we now know that Ebola can persist in the breast milk of survivors for up to 16 months and at least 9 months in semen. This raises the possibility that the virus can be transmitted to breast-feeding babies and through sexual contact. Indeed, sexual transmission of the virus has already been suspected.
And another Ebola surprise: even after the virus can no longer be detected in the blood, it remains in the eye and can cause potentially blinding infections.
So, lest we be wooed by the in vogue virus of the year (it begins with Z), let’s not become complacent. Remember that we still have a lot of work to do to understand and treat Ebola.
Blogging my way from A to Z as part of the 2016 April A to Z Challenge. Come blog through the alphabet with me.
Photo courtesy of DFID-UK Department for International Development.