Zika virus may have the limelight today but a previous virus that caused worldwide panic is still affecting its victims. Despite experts declaring that the Ebola outbreak is over, the survivors are faced with a new ordeal. Many of the 82 survivors, who were lucky to have surpassed the wrath of the deadly virus, experienced long-lasting neurological problems, a new study finds.

In the study to be presented at the 68th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Vancouver, Canada, most of the survivors of the largest Ebola outbreak in the world, had brain symptoms that appear even more than six months after being infected.

"While an end to the outbreak has been declared, these survivors are still struggling with long-term problems," Dr. Lauren Bowen, of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), said.

"We wanted to find out more about possible continued long-term brain health problems for the more than 17,000 survivors of the infection," Bowen said.

Brain Problems Emerged

The researchers checked the health status of 82 Ebola survivors in Liberia, the country with the most number of cases and deaths during the 2014 Ebola outbreak. By about six months after they were infected with the potentially-fatal virus, most of them experienced neurological problems.

About two-thirds of the survivors had problems with eye movements especially when asked to follow a moving object. One-third of the survivors reported having tremors, irregular reflexes and other sensory abnormalities.

Other problems include memory loss, headache, muscle pain, weakness and depressed mood. About 17 percent manifested reflexes that can signal a disorder in the frontal lobe of the brain, 21 survivors reported having hallucinations and 20 experienced meningitis or inflammation of the protective covering of the brain and spinal cord. Worse, about 14 people had been in a coma, at some point.

Nurse Survivor Also Experiences Late Complication

Scottish nurse Pauline Cafferkey, who was infected with Ebola in 2014 while working as a nurse in Sierra Leone, was admitted again for late complications. Though health authorities said that the re-admissions should not be a public health concern, the virus is still affecting those who were infected in the past. Cafferkey was admitted due to meningitis, another complication linked to Ebola in September 2015.

Earlier this year, the World Health Organization announced that the epidemic is over as no new cases emerged in the three Ebola-stricken countries: Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. A new report, however, shows that a possible case re-emerged in Sierra Leone causing one death. The health agency warns that though the outbreak may be over, some isolated cases may occur.

Photo: CDC Global | Flickr

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