Ebola found in doctor's eye, months after being cleared
08 May 2015, 09:43
Atlanta - For the first time, Ebola has
been discovered inside the eyes of a patient, months after the virus was gone
from his blood.
Ebola has infected more than 26 000 people
since December 2013 in West Africa. Some survivors have reported eye problems
but how often they occur isn't known. The virus also is thought to be able to
persist in semen for several months.
The new report concerns Dr Ian Crozier, a
43-year-old American physician diagnosed with Ebola in September while working
with the World Health Organisation in Sierra Leone.
He was treated at Emory University
Hospital's special Ebola unit in Atlanta and released in October when Ebola was
no longer detected in his blood. Two months later, he developed an inflammation
and very high blood pressure in one eye, which causes swelling and potentially
serious vision problems.
He returned to Emory, where ophthalmologist
Dr Steven Yeh drained some of the fluid and had it tested for Ebola. It
contained the virus but tears and tissue around the outside of his eye did not.
That suggests that casual contact with an
Ebola survivor poses no public health risk, but shows that survivors need to be
monitored for the eye problem, Yeh said.
Crozier has not fully recovered his vision
but continues to improve, Yeh said.
Dr Jay Varkey, an Emory infectious disease
specialist, said those involved in Crozier's care wore recommended protective
gear and monitored themselves for Ebola symptoms for several weeks afterward as
Doctors discussed the case at an
Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology conference in Denver on
Thursday, and the New England Journal of Medicine published their account
Earlier on Thursday, the World Health
Organisation said that the number of Ebola cases reported in Guinea and Sierra
Leone last week dropped to its lowest total this year.
Liberia, which has had the most deaths in
the outbreak - more than 4 700 - plans on Saturday to declare the outbreak over
in that country unless new cases are discovered.