We knew the virus could be transmitted, but not for five years. A large international research team published an article today showing that Ebola viruses can wake up after five years and cause a new outbreak of the disease. Infection While this is not the first time Ebola has reappeared in a previously infected person, the new findings greatly increase the duration of the risk.
Currently, we have only a little idea of how and where the virus survives in the human body. But there are now tens of thousands of people who have survived previous infections, so this is an area that needs immediate research.
African Guinea experienced an Ebola outbreak in January 2021 when a nurse fell ill. Due to a misdiagnosis, he was not immediately isolated and allowed the virus to spread. Fortunately, a large-scale outbreak in the same area from 2013 to 2016 led local health officials to purchase advanced diagnostic equipment, including real-time RT-PCRs used to test for COVID-19. This eventually allowed authorities to identify Ebola as the cause of his illness, identify 15 more cases, and take steps to stop the outbreak. In all, 12 of the 16 infected people lost their lives.
In order to better understand the source and spread the spread, samples from these patients were used to obtain the genome of the virus behind the outbreak. This process allows comparison of the genome sequence with previous outbreaks and samples from bats that can also carry the virus. Evolutionary analysis can then show how the first patient was infected.
But in this case, the analysis yielded a strange result. All cases were within a narrow group, which were among the group of virus types that caused the 2013-2016 outbreak in the same region. These included mutations that occurred only at the time of the initial outbreak and were not found in any group of bats.Advertising
This alone is not entirely shocking. The virus could potentially spread to isolated populations without the attention of health officials. If he wants to do that, he keeps jumping. However, the stress from the 2021 outbreak wasn't much different than what was released in 2016. It's almost as if he spent most of that time in between frozen times.
For 2021 species to have very few mutations since the 2013-2016 outbreak, the rate of natural mutations must be reduced by up to five times. An alternative method is, as in the previously mentioned case, the virus was silenced in a person who had recovered from a previous outbreak of infection. The virus is found in semen for up to 500 days after the infection has cleared, and there has been at least one transmission after that time. But the new outbreak requires more than three times the sleep.
Previous studies show that this type of continuity is unusual. But there are now more than 17,000 survivors from the previous outbreak, so there's definitely a chance of a rare event happening. Much less mechanism allows it to fall asleep. Only RNA viruses that cause long-term infection (retroviruses) do so by incorporating their DNA copy into the host's genome. But Ebola does not appear to contain any of the genes needed for this.
The obvious solution is to work with Ebola survivors to check for chronic infections - something that can be integrated into a more general surveillance programme. Because of the obvious danger of prolonged sleep. But it has its own challenges. Surviving Ebola is a stigma in many communities hard hit by the virus, with people who survive most of their infections losing their jobs and homes. Therefore, it will not necessarily be easy to hire people to collaborate with the research community on this project. They are being tested and have been deployed to help reduce the spread of disease over the past few years. Besides the changing public health situation in Africa, these developments may also change the social perception of those infected.
Nature, 2021. DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-03901-9 (about DOIs).
New Ebola outbreak from a person who contracted it 5 years ago
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