Female survivor transmits Ebola virus 1 year after outbreak



Molecular analysis showed that a Liberian woman who survived Ebola virus disease in 2014 had viral persistence or recurrent disease and transmitted the virus to other family members a year later, according to a study published online in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

An image of a decontamination procedure during the 2014 West African Ebola hemorrhagic fever outbreak. CDC/Athalia Christie

Although the original 2014-2015 Ebola virus disease epidemic in West Africa had been contained, subsequent clusters of infection continued to occur in the region, according to researchers. A particular cluster in Liberia in November 2015 was identified after a 15-year-old boy in Monrovia tested positive.

Based on serology and epidemiological and genomic data, the researchers concluded that this cluster was caused by a woman who survived Ebola virus disease in 2014 and transmitted the virus to three family members a year later.

Ebola transmission from persistently infected male survivors is well documented, but this is the first confirmed evidence for Ebola transmission from a persistently infected female survivor, according to Emily Kainne Dokubo, MD, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and her colleagues.

“The findings from this and recent Ebola virus disease clusters highlight the risk of Ebola virus disease flare-ups even after an outbreak is declared over. Risk assessment and focused prevention efforts are needed for Ebola survivors and their close contacts,” Dr. Dokubo and her colleagues concluded.

The study was funded by the CDC, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and WHO.

SOURCE: Dokubo EK et al. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, July 23, 2018.

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