A new genetic analysis appears to suggest that a survivor of the 2014 to 2016 West African Ebola outbreak has continued to harbour the virus some five years after being infected and eventually now has transmitted it to someone. 

The previous known longest Ebola survivor was believed to have shed the virus some 500 days after infection. 

The virus hides in places where the immune system is unable to find it. 

These can be the eyeball, spinal fluid or even the testicles of infected men.

Survivors suffer a relapse when the virus reactivates. 

Pauline Cafferkey, the Scottish nurse who worked in Sierra Leone during the West African outbreak suffered three bouts of the disease over a couple of years. 

These hidden Ebola contagious survivors can also on rare occasions infect other people.

The transmission event appears to be a male survivor infecting a female sexual partner. 

This appears to be the case in the current case. 

However, currently, there are not enough details known about the current outbreak to be able to trace back the event to the survivor of the earlier outbreak.  

The first known case in the current Guinea outbreak was a nurse who became sick in mid-January and died on January 28. 

 A number of the subsequent cases were people who attended her funeral on February 1st.

There had, however, been reports that this nurse had cared for her mother who may have been sick before her.

Dr Paul Ettlinger
BM, DRCOG, FRCGP, FRIPH, DOccMed

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