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article imageNew insight into how easily Ebola infects

By Tim Sandle     Nov 1, 2014 in Health
Ebola has been making headlines around the world. One of the greatest fears is in relation to the virus’ infectivity. A new report weighs up how readily disease transmission can occur.
As scientists continue to grapple with the ongoing Ebola outbreak crippling the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, populations around the world are getting nervous about the risks that could occur should Ebola cases occur within their borders.
Ebola virus disease (EVD) or Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) is an unpleasant disease. After an incubation time that can stretch to twenty-one days, one of the common signs of the disease is bleeding from mucous membranes and puncture sites. If the infected person does not recover, death due to multiple organ dysfunction syndromes occur.
One key issue is how easily does Ebola spread? The World Health Organization (WHO) states that the infection gets into humans through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs and other bodily fluids.
A new insight has been provided from a new modeling study published in Annals of Internal Medicine (“Effect of Ebola Progression on Transmission and Control in Liberia”.) With the model, scientists developed a random transmission model to determine how disease progression and case fatality affect transmission. The researchers discovered that the risk for transmitting Ebola depends on the extent of the viral load in a patient and the number of people that the infected person comes into contact with.
To increase the strength of the model, the scientists looked at the rate of survival and death. This was considered important because survivors tend to achieve peak viral load approximately four days after symptoms develop and then viral load declines. Those who survived were predicted to have a 32 percent probability of infecting at least one other individual during their infection period.
With non-survivors it was found that the viral load was 100-fold higher compared with survivors and that the level of virus infection did not decline once it had peaked. In terms of disease transmission, non-survivors had a 67 percent probability of transmitting Ebola to at least one other person.
The scientists hope that further study of these patterns will help to predict how easily the disease can spread within a population and they emphasize the importance of isolating anyone who is suspected of carrying Ebola. This is interesting information in light of the Kaci Hickox case. Hickox is a U.S. nurse who, on returning from working with Ebola victims is west Africa, challenged a decision by the governor of the state of Maine to put her into isolation for 21 days.
More about Ebola, Virus, Infection, Isolation, kaci hickox
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