A huge number of people who caught the Ebola virus are surviving; however, the survivors who are on the road to recovery have taken a turn. As a result, they are now facing a number of psychological health problems.
Yusuf Kabba, one of the survivors who started the Sierra Leone Association of Ebola Survivors, still recalls seeing firsthand, the effects of Ebola during the height of the crisis.
"I was seeing horrible things. I was seeing corpses, seeing suffering, seeing people dying," he said.
In West Africa, over 13,000 people survived the virus that broke out more than a year ago. This time, however, a lot of the survivors are battling with lingering health issues and psychological problems like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and social exclusion. They are even worrying about going back to work so they can feed themselves and their families.
In a tele-briefing that discussed the results of the Ebola virus survivors meeting on Aug. 7, Dr. Daniel Bausch, senior consultant for the World Health Organization (WHO) and a specialist in infectious diseases at the Tulane University, said [audio] that working also becomes a difficulty most likely because many of the survivors are experiencing chronic and severe joint pains. About half of all the survivors are experiencing joint pains, which Bausch said may be taken simply bur can have significant negative effects.
"This can be very debilitating - a very serious problem that can prevent people from going back to work, providing food for their families," Bausch stressed.
He added that those who were the sickest more likely develop the pains that could extend to months even after the virus has been cleared. However, the exact cause is unknown.
Eye problems have also been seen as an aftermath of the epidemic. According to Bausch, 25 percent of those who survived Ebola said that they noticed a change in vision after the virus has cleared. A small portion of the group is experiencing inflammations in the eye or Uveitis which can eventually lead to blindness if not treated.
In prior outbreaks such as the incident in Uganda in 2000-2001, similar effects have been seen in the Ebola survivors but in much smaller numbers. According to the WHO, with the data that they were able to gather from the December 2013 outbreak, they will be able to further assess the after-effects of Ebola to come up with solutions to lingering issues not only in the medical aspect, but with their mental health and social challenges as well.
Since the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in December 2013, 27,860 have been reported to have caught the epidemic in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. About 11,281 died, according to the WHO. This is the largest reported Ebola outbreak yet, with the outbreak in Uganda in 2000-2001 that only reported 425 cases. Half of the infected patients died.