SUNDAY, JUNE 17, 2018

Researchers offer overview of late-stage Ebola risks

First systematic overview of risks of Ebola
First systematic overview of risks of Ebola | Courtesy of
Researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have conducted the first systematic analysis and review of the risks involved in the Ebola virus.

The study included an evaluation of whether people who are in the late stage of the virus and living at home place their loved ones at a higher risk of contracting the virus. The purpose of the overview is to guarantee that Ebola patients do not spread the virus. In light of their research, the scientists say health care facilities need to do their best to prevent at-home care for Ebola patients.

Ultimately, the researchers suggest that the risk of transmission throughout the community is not a significant risk.

"This research strengthens the evidence base for dealing with this deadly disease. Importantly, we provide a more nuanced understanding of the risks -- and particularly the risks associated with indirect contact,” Paul Hunter, the lead researcher in the study from UEA's Norwich Medical School, said. "Our research shows that Ebola is not very infectious in the general community, and that it does require close contact with a known case."

The researchers recommend cremation of deceased Ebola victims  to further inhibit the transmission of the virus.

“We found no evidence of risk associated with casual community contact with individuals who are not yet showing symptoms,” Hunter said. “Even living in the same house is not that risky providing you avoid direct contact. Many forms of contact such as conversation, sharing a meal, sharing a bed, and direct or indirect touching, are unlikely to result in disease transmission during incubation or early illness.

"We found that infection risk is highest among those caring for a sick person at home in the later stages of infection, or preparing the recently deceased for burial. Urgent diagnosis and hospitalisation really is the key to stopping the spread of this disease at least until a vaccine is widely available. Our work also shows that vaccination strategies in future outbreaks only need to be targeted at relatively close contacts of cases and health care workers."

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University of East Anglia

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