Ebola Survivors Suffering Brain Health Issues

25 February 2016, 07:43

A majority of Ebola survivors suffer some form of long-term brain health problems, according to a new study.

Patients who were successfully treated for the disease were found to have neurological issues six months later.

The most common problems included muscle pain, headaches, memory loss and depressed moods, but in rare cases patients were suicidal, the US researchers said.

It comes as Scottish nurse Pauline Cafferkey remains in the Royal Free Hospital in London for treatment for a "late complication'' from Ebola.

It is the third time the 40 year old, from South Lanarkshire, Scotland, has been treated in hospital since contracting the virus in Sierra Leone in December 2014 at a Save the Children treatment centre.

The study, by the US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, examined 82 survivors in Liberia and found that most had some form of ``neurologic abnormality'' at least six months after they became infected.

Around two thirds of the group, which had an average age of 35, had body weakness, while half suffered headaches and memory loss. Two people were suicidal and one suffered hallucinations.

Doctors also found survivors commonly had abnormal eye movements and tremors.

The research, which will be presented at the annual meeting of American Academy of Neurology, forms part of a wider study into the long-term health effects of the virus.

More than 17,000 people survived the outbreak in west Africa, although the virus left 11,300 dead.

Dr Lauren Brown, the study's author, said: "While an end to the outbreak has been declared, these survivors are still struggling with long-term problems.''

"It is important for us to know how this virus may continue to affect the brain long term.''