New research has revealed that Ebola virus survivors can relapse and trigger outbreaks at least five years after infection.
The investigation revealed the existence of “virus reservoirs,” which appear to be capable of reawakening and causing fresh infections and transmission for years.
Although scientists who tracked the virus in the past recognized that it may be dormant in survivors who tested negative, this is due to the virus being present in tissue rather than circulating in the blood.
However, according to this new report, long-term follow-up of former patients is required to avoid severe flare-ups.
The inquiry encompassed 16 confirmed cases, 12 of whom died, and researchers analyzed the genomes of samples from numerous patients in an attempt to track down the root of the outbreak in Guinea.
The analysis showed the Guinea strain was virtually identical to that from a 2013-16 wave, despite that ebola outbreaks are thought to result from the virus “spilling” from an animal host to a human.
Therefore, It is expected that it would have accumulated a certain number of mutations as it spread if the virus had been circulating actively in the community since then.
However, the 2021 virus had just 12 mutations, which has been said to be far fewer than would be expected during six years of sustained human-to-human transmission.
In essence, Alpha Keita, a researcher at the University of Montpellier who led the study suggested that the source was a reactivated virus that had lain dormant in a survivor.
According to Keita, “This is the longest known time between the declared end of an epidemic and a viral resurgence.
“It’s a new paradigm: the possibility that transmission from an individual infected during a previous epidemic could be the source of a new outbreak.”
There are, however, still questions around how, what and why a dormant Ebola virus is triggered to awaken and make a person or people sick. though there are some tantalizing clues.
One reason for this is that sometimes a spike in Ebola antibodies can be detected in survivors at a given time, which is a sign that the body is responding to a resurgent virus.