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article imageEbola virus is heard to beat, found in man's eye

By Tim Sandle     May 8, 2015 in Science
The Ebola virus has been detected in the eye of a U.S. doctor who survived the illness, according to a new medical study. This raises further questions about the ability of the virus to survive.
Putting aside whether the risks of Ebola were overestimated and the extent at which the virus is evolving, it appears that the removal of all viral particles from the body is very difficult to achieve.
Back in April Digital Journal reported on a World Health Organization (WHO) report where someone appeared to have caught Ebola through sexual contact with someone who had recovered. This has led WHO scientists to weigh up whether it is feasible, or desirable, to offer screening to check if the virus is still present in semen 90 days after male survivors have been declared Ebola free. To add to this, WHO has also presented information which shows that many Ebola survivors continue to suffer from ailments like poor joints and eye problems.
Taking the eye problem further, and in the context of the potential spread through sexual contact, New England Journal of Medicine has released a paper that describes how a medic, who contracted the virus while working in Sierra Leone, has developed blurred eyesight and pain two months after being declared Ebola-free.
With the patient, later tests showed the presence of live Ebola virus in his left eye. The man was treated for three months with steroids and antiviral drugs and his vision is said to have improved. The chance of any one contracting the virus from the individual are said to be remote.
The survival of the virus in the eye is, as the paper speculates, a consequence of the eye falling outside of the scope of the body's immune system (most anti-Ebola drugs utilize the body's immune system.) Although this is, at present, a one-off the medical report is giving scientists pause to re-think the virulence factors of Ebola.
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