Ebola Survivors Face New Struggles

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Although it seems that the worst of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa might have passed, health officials are now dealing with a second crisis.

Thousands of survivors are coping with the lingering effects of Ebola infection, such as joint pain and eye problems.

“The world has never seen such a large number of survivors from an Ebola outbreak,” said Anders Nordstrom, MD, a World Health Organization (WHO) official, at an Ebola conference last week, reports Reuters. “We have 13,000 survivors in the three countries (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone). This is new — both from a medical and from a societal point of view.”

Ebola is a rare but often deadly virus contracted through the bodily fluids of patients who are sick with Ebola. Symptoms include high fever, nausea, vomiting and unexplained bleeding. According to WHO’s latest reports, there have been 27,862 confirmed or suspected cases in West Africa since the outbreak began last year — 11,281 of which have resulted in death.

For patients who have survived infection with Ebola, health issues can linger. Long-term complications like joint and vision problems can develop in patients who recover from Ebola.

According to Reuters, Daniel Bausch, MD, also of WHO, said that around half of West African Ebola survivors are now reporting joint pain, some of which is so extreme that the survivors are unable to work.

Around a quarter of the survivors have reported eye issues like inflammation, impaired vision and even rare cases of blindness, Dr. Bausch said.


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