Ebola Survivors Facing Lingering Health Problem – Nigeria News
Many Ebola survivors in West Africa are suffering from lingering health problems due to the virus, according to a report to Nigeria News from a close doctor working with World Health Organization (WHO).
It was gathered that half of the Ebola survivors have joint pain, which can leave them too debilitated to work, said Daniel Bausch, a member of the WHO clinical care team and an associate professor at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans.
Nigeria News gathered that about 25% have eye complications, which can range from vision changes to uveitis, an inflammation inside the eye that can lead to blindness if not treated.
But treating Ebola-related eye problems isn’t easy. Sierra Leone — a nation of more than 6.4 million people — has only two ophthalmologists, Bausch said.
Ebola survivors also have dealt with the psychological trauma of the disease, Bausch said.
Nigeria News noted that Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which began in December 2013, is the largest in history.
More than 27,860 people have had Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and 11,281 have died, according to WHO. That leaves more than 16,000 survivors. The largest outbreak before this was in Uganda in 2000-2001, with 425 cases, only half of whom survived.
“The world has never seen so many survivors,” said Anders Nordstrom, the WHO representative for Sierra Leone. “This is new, both from a medical point of view, but also from a societal point of view.”
In some ways, everyone living in the three countries is a survivor. Virtually everyone knows someone who died from the virus, and everyone has lived with the effects of Ebola on the economy, health care system and society, Nordstrom said.
Doctors don’t have enough experience treating Ebola survivors to know exactly what to expect.
Alie Wurie, a doctor with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation in Sierra Leone, said he’s concerned about what will happen when women who survived Ebola get pregnant. Doctors don’t know how Ebola will affect pregnant survivors or their children.
Doctors do know that pregnant Ebola patients were at very high risk of death and very few gave birth to live children, Bausch said. Most babies were miscarried or stillborn. Many of the stillborn babies had major anatomical defects.
“We have very few kids who survived,” Bausch said. The WHO plans to release guidelines related to Ebola and pregnancy next week, Nordstrom said.
Ebola cases have been declining in West Africa for the past three weeks, according to the WHO. There were two confirmed cases of Ebola in the week ending Aug. 2, with one each in Sierra Leone and Guinea. That’s the lowest level of cases since March 2014. Liberia has had no Ebola cases since July.
Almost 2,000 contacts of Ebola patients are under observation in Sierra Leone and Guinea, according to WHO.
This week was the first in three weeks with no new infections among health care workers, who have been hit hard by Ebola. The WHO has reported a total of 880 cases of Ebola in health care workers, along with 512 deaths.
Health professionals would be some of the first to be vaccinated against Ebola, if a working vaccine is approved.