The U.S. government is teaming up with Liberia to find out what happens to Ebola survivors in the long run, studying whether previously infected persons can transmit the deadly virus through close or sexual contact and if they’ve built enough immunity to thwart future infection.
The study, a partnership between Liberia’s health ministry and the US National Institutes of Health, will enroll about 7,500 people — 1,500 who survived Ebola and 6,000 of their close contacts.
“The clinical course of Ebola virus disease is reasonably well-understood, but we still have much to learn about the long-term health effects of the illness in those who recover,” said Anthony S. Fauci, NIH’s infectious diseases chief.
The study will take place at various sites throughout Liberia, which lost nearly 5,000 people to Ebola during the West African outbreak that continues to wreak havoc in neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone. Liberia was declared Ebola-free on May 9.
Study participants will be asked to submit blood samples and, in some cases, other bodily fluids so scientists can track their health status, monitor organ function and check their antibody levels.
The team will track survivors and their contacts for up to five years, with participants checking in every six months, according to NIH. (By Tom Howell Jr. – The Washington Times)