Some of the signs and symptoms can persist for months, researchers
from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta
The data, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, offer a
snapshot of what eight patients, most of whom had been discharged at
least four months earlier, had experienced - and were continuing to
experience - during their recovery. A ninth patient was still
recovering in the hospital at the time of the March survey and was
included in the survey.
The results add ďa few more observations to the growing body of
knowledge on (what is coming to be known as) post-Ebola virus
disease syndrome," Dr. Christopher Dye, director of strategy in the
Office of the Director-General at the World Health Organization,
told Reuters Health in an email.
"We're happy that most of the EVD patients who were managed in the
U.S. survived, but surviving EVD is not the end of the story," said
lead author Dr. Timothy Uyeki, clinical team lead for the CDC's
Ebola response team. "There are complications, sequelae and symptoms
reported by these survivors, and we need a lot more research into
the frequency, duration and the pathogenesis of the post-Ebola signs
and symptoms, and how to manage them."
As of early December, WHO had logged 17,300 Ebola survivors
worldwide for the most recent outbreak, which began in 2013.
Larger studies "are very much needed so that we can properly
anticipate, and provide for, the health needs of the many thousands
of Ebola survivors in West Africa," Dye said. "This small study
helps to signal those needs in West Africa."
In the case of the U.S. survivors, many after-effects were obvious
when the eight patients left the hospital.
Two had short-term memory loss. One recovered after four weeks. The
other had not recovered when surveyed.
Six had joint pain, six had lethargy or fatigue, four had
palpitations or tachycardia and three had shortness of breath. Most,
but not everyone, recovered.
Some people were also plagued with muscle pain, depression or
anxiety, or nerve pain, burning or tingling in their extremities.
But in some of those people, the symptoms took as long as 12 weeks
Recovery typically required another four to six weeks, but only one
of the four patients who fell into the anxiety or depression
category had experienced a total recovery.
[to top of second column]
Five survivors had developed insomnia within two weeks of leaving
the hospital, and only one had recovered completely.
Five developed blurred vision, typically after four weeks, and two
had not fully recovered. Two experienced inflammation in one eye.
One patient had begun to experience it at the two-week mark; the
other after eight weeks. Both recovered.
Six had experienced temporary hair loss, usually on the head. The
hair loss took anywhere from four to 16 weeks to appear and two to
eight weeks to resolve.
One person experienced hearing loss on one side and had not
"Although most symptoms resolved or improved over time, only one
survivor reported complete resolution of all symptoms," the CDC team
There was no indication that the aftereffects were unique to U.S.
patients, Uyeki told Reuters Health, but the U.S. patients "received
not only better and more advanced supportive care, but they also
received some investigational therapeutics not available to West
African disease patients. We don't know the impact of those
therapeutics. Also, the general health status of the patients before
they developed EVD was probably better."
Previous research has shown that the virus can be detected in semen
as many as 101 days after symptoms appear. It is also known to lurk
in eye tissue.
Ebola virus was first detected in 1976, but previous outbreaks have
been much smaller, making it harder to study the survivors.
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1lZTecs New England Journal of Medicine,
online December 16, 2015.
[© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2015 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.