Latest Ebola virus outbreak sat ‘hidden’ in infected human body for seven years

The latest Ebola virus outbreak in Guinea has thought to have been caused by a person who was infected over seven years ago.

At a briefing by the World Health Organization, top emergency official Mike Ryan said that the early findings based on original genetic sequencing were ‘remarkable’.

Findings showed that the most recent virus and one from seven years ago were genetically similar.

This means the virus did not transmit from animals to humans like most scientists had thought but were hidden in a human body.

Scientists knew the Ebola virus could persist for a long time in the human body following a survivor who shed the virus in his semen more than 500 days after infection and infected a partner through sexual intercourse in 2016.

Eric Delaporte, who is an infectious disease physician at the University of Montpellier, told Science Mag that the new that “ a new outbreak start from latent infection five years after the end of an epidemic is scary and new.”

At least 18 cases of Ebola have been reported in this resurgence of the virus, which is the first since the 2013-16 outbreak which was the worst in history and killed thousands in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

WHO officials said it was too early to draw any conclusions about the outbreak's cause and advocated further testing.

Ryan also stated that the preliminary results highlight the importance of not stigmatizing survivors of the disease and continue to provide them with a follow-up and the care they require.

The disease was first found along the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976 and has regularly resurfaced in many African countries.

Ebola is one of the deadliest viruses ever found and can be spread from bats or monkeys to humans.

It has also been found to survive in areas of the body such as skin, breasts, and testicles and spread by fluids such as sperm.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said symptoms of the Ebola virus can include a fever, bleeding, bruising abdominal pain or unexplained haemorrhaging.

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