Sierra Leonean doctors practise wearing protective clothing in the Ebola Training Academy in Freetown (Reuters)
Throughout the two-year Ebola epidemic, thousands of West African survivors have been shunned by their communities, prompting governments to sponsor messages stressing their complete recovery in a bid to counter fear and paranoia.
But the case of Scottish nurse Pauline Cafferkey – the first known Ebola survivor to have an apparently life-threatening relapse – has revived concerns about the health of some 17,000 survivors in Sierra Leone, neighboring Guinea and Liberia.
Doctors and health officials in Sierra Leone told Reuters that a handful of mystery deaths among discharged patients may also be types of Ebola relapses, stirring fear that the deadly virus may last far longer than previously thought in the body, causing other potentially lethal complications.
Dr. Dan Kelly, founder of non-profit organization Wellbody Alliance who has worked on Ebola in Sierra Leone, estimates that relapsing Ebola might affect 10 percent of all recovered patients.
He said this was based on two cases, including Cafferkey’s, where the live virus was detected among the roughly 20 survivors treated in Europe and the United States. Other experts have declined to give an estimate, saying it is too early to tell.
“One case reminds me of Pauline but we were unable to find a laboratory willing to test the patient before the patient died,” he said. “In West Africa it (relapsing Ebola) is mostly undiagnosed, hardly treated and people are certainly dying of it.”
Guinea is the only nation in West Africa that still has new confirmed cases. Liberia has been declared Ebola-free while Sierra Leone has gone 25 days without a case. But Ebola survivors continue to die under mysterious circumstances, health officials say.
Source: Mystery deaths in Sierra Leone spread fear of Ebola relapses – Yahoo News