Ebola Survivors May Have Lasting Brain Problems
Although Ebola is not the certain death sentence it once was, people who have survived the virus may be suffering continued ill effects involving their brain and nervous system.
Researchers looked at a group of 82 Ebola survivors in Liberia, and found that nearly all had some neurologic problems at six months or longer after they were infected. The neurological exams indicated that about two-thirds of the participants had abnormalities in the way their eyes followed moving objects.
The study authors believe such abnormalities "normally indicate a subtle degree of damage in the brain." A third of the people had tremors, abnormal reflexes and other sensory abnormalities, and 17 percent had certain reflexes that are typically signs of disorders affecting the frontal lobes of the brain.
Other common neurologic symptoms reported in the study were headaches, depressed mood, weakness, muscle pain and memory problems; 21 people in the study said they'd had hallucinations.
How, exactly, Ebola contributes to these neurologic symptoms is not clear. However, the changes may be related to the significant blood loss that often occurs in Ebola patients, and the effects of this loss on the brain.