Neurological effects of Ebola remain for up to 3 years after infection

The neurological effects of Ebola virus disease persist for years after the initial infection, according to findings presented at the American Neurological Association's 143rd Annual Meeting Oct. 21 to 23 in Atlanta.

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health examined 20 volunteers from Liberia who survived the 2015 Ebola epidemic in West Africa. They were screened for ongoing neurological sequelae, such as:

• Headaches, memory loss as well as seizures
• Neurological findings on baseline evaluation
• Neurological manifestations during acute Ebola virus disease, such as meningitis, focal neurological signs, seizures and coma

Three of the volunteers underwent extensive neurological evaluation, including MRI, EEG, EMG/NCS, lumbar puncture, ophthalmologic evaluation and laboratory assessments at the NIH in December 2017.

Researchers found that neurological exams showed improvement compared to baseline evaluation performed in Liberia in fall 2015; however, some abnormalities persisted. The three survivors who underwent extensive evaluation all had abnormal MRI scans. Additionally, two had abnormal EEGs and all three had lumbar punctures with normal cell counts, protein and glucose.

"Preliminary findings suggest EVD survivors demonstrate sequelae of meningoencephalitis and microvascular disease presenting as persistent abnormalities on neurologic imaging and other neurologic and ophthalmologic evaluation modalities," study authors concluded.

The authors did note, however, that more research is needed, including with matched controls of non-Ebola sufferers from West Africa.

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