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Symptoms Frequently Reported by Ebola Virus Survivors

Eight survivors report varied symptoms, including ocular, psychological, or cognitive symptoms

THURSDAY, Dec. 17, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Survivors of Ebola virus disease (EVD) frequently have symptoms, including ocular symptoms, most of which resolve over time, according to a letter to the editor published in the Dec. 17 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Lauren Epstein, M.D., and colleagues from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta examined the duration, severity, and pathogenesis of sequelae among EVD survivors in the United States. A semi-structured questionnaire was administered to eight EVD survivors about symptoms, diagnostic testing, and treatment occurring during the recovery period. The survey was administered at a median of five months from hospital discharge.

The researchers found that all survivors reported having had one or more symptoms during the recovery period, with symptoms ranging from mild to more severe complications requiring rehospitalization or treatment. Lethargy or fatigue, arthralgia, and alopecia were the most frequently reported symptoms. Within eight weeks after discharge, six survivors returned to normal daily activities. Ocular symptoms were reported by five patients, including pain, discomfort, or blurriness; two were treated for unilateral uveitis. Six patients reported having psychological or cognitive symptoms, three had paresthesia or dysesthesia, and one received treatment for peripheral neuropathy. Brief rehospitalization for non-EVD-related febrile illness was reported for two patients.

“Although most symptoms resolved or improved over time, only one survivor reported complete resolution of all symptoms,” the authors write.

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