How Ebola can hide in the body
In the past couple weeks, multipe reports have surfaced of the Ebola virus over-staying it's welcome in those previously affected. On May 1st, the centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning to male Ebola survivors stating that they should use protection indefinitely.
That warning came after a woman contracted Ebola after having unprotected sex with a male Ebola survivor. The survivor overcame the virus about 5 months before. The New England Journal of Medicine reported that an American doctor who survived the disease had Ebola in his eye, more than one month after leaving the hospital clear of the virus.
Scientists are still trying to understand why Ebola remains in its host's semen and eyes for so long. One theory in particular is immune privilege, meaning the immune system doesn't respond the same way to indigenes in certain parts of the body. It is believed to occur in the eyes, testicles and during pregnancy in the placenta and fetus. While those functions in the body protect those areas from an inflammatory immune response, which could harm them, it also creates a safe haven for viruses like Ebola.
For survivors of Ebola, this means their not completely in the clear yet. During an Ebola outbreak in 1995, there were similar reports of eye infections. Judging by that outbreak, MPR reports about 65% of survivors could be at risk of losing their vision.
The CDC still doesn't know exactly how long Ebola can be found in semen. This Ebola outbreak had more than 26,000 suspected cases. The World Health Organization reported about 1 in 3 of those patients survived. In the coming months we'll find out exactly how their bodies continue to respond to the disease.
Click through the pictures below to see some of the current Ebola victims in the U.S.
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