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Ebola survivors continue to suffer from blindness, aches, pain and fatigue

Ebola survivors

(NaturalNews) Despite all of the attention that the Ebola virus has received in the media, there has been very little reportage regarding the after-effects of the disease among its survivors.

However, it is becoming increasingly evident that many surviving victims of the deadly illness are suffering from what has become known as "post-Ebola syndrome," a condition which involves a range of symptoms, including vision loss, body aches and severe fatigue.

Due to limited health resources on the African continent where the disease originated and is largely contained, as well as the high mortality rate associated with Ebola, very few studies have been carried out to investigate its long-term effects.

A high percentage of those who have managed to recover after contracting the Ebola virus are reporting similar symptoms, though it is unclear at this point whether the after-effects are directly related to the disease itself or may be due to other factors.

For example, some of these symptoms may be attributable to the treatment of the disease -- often, there are extremely strong disinfectants used on Ebola victims to prevent contamination, which may or may not be the cause of some of the post-infection maladies being reported.

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Professor William Schaffner, an infectious diseases expert, says that, although he was previously unaware of a post-Ebola syndrome, he is not surprised that recovering victims in West Africa are experiencing lingering health problems.

"You can imagine when people recover from Ebola there will be a period of time when they are fatigued," he said, "particularly if they have led a rough existence of poverty and poor nutrition."

The lack of studies to date makes it difficult to pinpoint the exact causes of the syndrome, but researchers are beginning to take notice of the need for further investigation into the long-term effects of the virus.

Dr. Margaret Nanyonga, psychosocial support officer for the World Health Organization in Kenema, Sierra Leone, reports that around 50 percent of survivors are experiencing the symptoms.

"We are seeing a lot of people with vision problems," she said. "Some complain of clouded vision, but for others the visual loss is progressive. I have seen two people who are now blind."

Along with the instances of uveitis (inflammation of the inner parts of the eye), survivors are also reporting symptoms of chronic arthralgia -- a condition which resembles arthritis and includes pain in one or more joints of the body.

Nancy Writebol, the second American flown back to the U.S. for treatment of Ebola, and who is among the lucky few who have recovered from the virus, reports that it has taken some time to recover her stamina and is still experiencing some problems with neuropathy -- nerve damage -- in her feet:

My doctors are hoping that I'll be back to 100 percent and there won't be any long-term effects. I think we're getting there. With any illness, especially illnesses that are new, you don't always know what the side effects are going to be and what's going to happen once you're released.

As we begin to learn more about the Ebola virus, including how to treat it and prevent its spread, it is also hoped that we will find out more about its long-term effects and what can be done to alleviate them.

Nanyonga -- who has developed an assessment tool for tracking the post-viral symptoms -- and others like her are leading the way to a better understanding of post-Ebola syndrome and finding methods of treating it.

Sources for this article include:






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