Post-Ebola syndrome in Sierra Leone

February 25, 2016, University of Liverpool
Ebola Survivor and medical team at her discharge ceremony from the Ebola Treat Unit 34th Regiment Military Hospital Freetown, Sierra Leone on Feb. 5, 2016. Credit: MG Semple

Researchers from the University's Institute of Translational Medicine have conducted a study of Ebola survivors to describe the medical problems they continue to have after recovering from the acute disease. The results of which have been published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

This week it was widely reported that a British Nurse, Pauline Cafferkey, who was thought to have made a full recovery from Ebola, has been taken to a hospital for a third time due to what described as delayed complications from the virus—raising further questions about the long-term impact of the disease on . Cafferkey is one of thousands of survivors who have reported suffering from issues that appear to be related to late effects of the virus.

Symptoms persisting

To find out more about the symptoms that persist or develop after hospital discharge Dr Janet Scott and Dr Calum Semple from the University's Institute of Translational Medicine, and their colleagues at the 34th Regiment Military Hospital, Freetown, Sierra Leone examined and interviewed every survivor discharged from the Ebola Treatment Unit at that hospital.

During December 1, 2014-March 30, 2015, they treated 84 persons with Ebola, of whom 44 (52%) survived. Survivors were interviewed and examined at their first follow-up appointment three weeks after discharge, which followed two negative blood tests for Ebola.

Of the 44 people studied:

  • 70% reported musculoskeletal pain
  • 48% reported having headaches
  • 14% reported having problems with their eyesight

Mounting evidence

Dr Janet Scott, said: "The phenomenon of 'Post-Ebola Syndrome' is still not very well understood. This is due in part to the fact that, in the past, the disease's high fatality rate has meant there haven't been many survivors. Due to the scale of the last outbreak we now have access to more survivors who can help us understand more about the damage that this virus causes and the long term problems it causes.

"There has been mounting evidence of both mental and physical in Ebola survivors after the virus is cleared from the bloodstream. In some cases these health problems, such as damage to joints, brain and eyes, may be caused by Ebola virus persisting and causing damage in some of the compartments of the body that are less accessible to the immune system.

"Currently, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence of Post-Ebola Syndrome. The continued study of survivors is necessary if we are to learn more about how the Ebola virus works and how it affects them. The Ebola epidemic is waning, but the effects of the disease will remain."

Dr Semple, said "Ebola has revealed to the world the fragility of the health systems in West Africa. The impact of Ebola has been profound with 28639 cases and 11316 deaths. As interest in Ebola wanes, we must not overlook that most of the 17 thousand survivors in West Africa are experienced on-going health problems and that 12 thousand children have been orphaned. There has also been shocking secondary impact on other health and education services."

Explore further: Hospital releases nurse who suffered Ebola complication

More information: The paper, entitled 'Post-Ebola Syndrome, Sierra Leone', can be found:

Related Stories

Hospital releases nurse who suffered Ebola complication

November 12, 2015
London's Royal Free Hospital says it has discharged Scottish nurse Pauline Cafferkey, who was hospitalized last month after suffering from a rare relapse of Ebola.

Ebola may leave lasting neurological problems

February 25, 2016
(HealthDay)—Many Ebola survivors have brain symptoms that last long after other signs of the potentially fatal infection are gone, a new study finds.

Ebola survivor study yields insights on complications of disease

February 24, 2016
Preliminary findings from PREVAIL III, a study of Ebola virus disease (EVD) survivors being conducted in Liberia, indicate that both Ebola survivors and their close contacts have a high burden of illness. However, the prevalence ...

British Ebola survivor nurse hospitalised for third time

February 23, 2016
A British nurse who was twice successfully treated after contracting Ebola in Sierra Leone in 2014 was on Tuesday admitted to a special isolation ward in London for a third time, health officials said.

Ailing Ebola nurse in UK may be rare case of relapse

October 15, 2015
The World Health Organization says it's possible in rare instances for patients who survived Ebola to develop the lethal disease again, when the virus lingering in the body starts to replicate at high levels.

Ebola epidemic is over but expect flare-ups: UN

January 14, 2016
West Africa can expect flare-ups of Ebola in the coming year even if the world's worst outbreak of the disease will be declared effectively over, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday.

Recommended for you

Researchers seek vaccine for 'traveler's diarrhea'

September 25, 2018
Every year, millions of people have vacations and business trips ruined when they succumb to "traveler's diarrhea" during their journeys. A major cause of traveler's diarrhea is bacteria called Enterotoxigenic E. coli, or ...

Experimental vaccine shows promise in preventing TB

September 25, 2018
(HealthDay)—Tuberculosis remains the most lethal of infectious diseases worldwide, killing more than 1.6 million people a year. But researchers say a new vaccine might prevent half of full-blown illnesses in infected people ...

Many doctors in India miss TB signs: study

September 25, 2018
Many private sector doctors in India miss the signs of tuberculosis and therefore provide patients inadequate treatment, according to a new study published Tuesday involving people hired to act out the symptoms.

New way of determining treatment for staph infections cuts antibiotic use

September 25, 2018
Using a clinical checklist to identify eligible patients, doctors were able to shorten the antibiotic duration for patients with uncomplicated staphylococcal bloodstream infections by nearly two days, Duke Health researchers ...

Breakthrough in designing a better Salmonella vaccine

September 24, 2018
UC Davis researchers announce in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week a breakthrough in understanding which cells afford optimal protection against Salmonella infection—a critical step in developing ...

Antifungal agent found to be possible treatment for porphyria

September 24, 2018
A large team of researchers from Spain, France and the U.S. has found that a common antifungal agent might be useful as a treatment for a rare type of porphyria. In their paper published in the journal Science Translational ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.