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article imageHow long can Ebola survive for?

By Tim Sandle     Dec 13, 2014 in Science
Pitsburg - The Ebola virus is adept at moving from from person to person via direct contact with infected body fluids. However, how long can the virus survive outside of the body? New research seeks an answer.
The Ebola virus has developed an effective means of moving between people, causing havoc and potential death. What is, however, the risk posed by the virus outside of the human body? How long can it survive for? Does this differ for different environments? These are the questions that have puzzled University of Pittsburgh scientists.
Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a deadly disease, as news stories running throughout the year have shown. 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.
With this important question, researchers have questioned advice from The World Health Organization (WHO) which infers that human waste can be deposited into pit latrines or sanitary sewers and with this the Ebola virus dies.
In contrast researchers argue that we need to know for how long the virus survives on surfaces, in water, or in liquid droplets. Once we know this then effective disinfection practices can be enacted in order to prevent the spread of the disease.
The Pittsburgh scientists reviewed a mass of scientific data about the cycle of the Ebola virus. The researchers discovered that there is actually very little data in this area. This means, in effect, that no one actually knows whether the virus can survive on a surface and cause infection or how long it remains active in water, wastewater, or sludge.
In an attempt to close this knowledge gap, the researchers aim to undertake a series of studies to explore the issue. The research, due to safety concerns, will deploy surrogate viruses that are physiologically similar to Ebola. The first focus will be on l inform water treatment and waste-handling procedures.
The literature research has been published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters. The research is called “Ebola Virus Persistence in the Environment: State of the Knowledge and Research Needs.”
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