Saturday, January 7, 2017

Minor Update: New Italian Research Suggests Ebola May "Hide" -- And Replicate -- In Host's Lungs

First: this is no cause for alarm. It was already known that the virus could reside in a dormant fashion in a host's eye fluid, and semen, long after being undetectable in the blood.

But this will help WHO's pandemic response teams, for the next time there is an Ebola viral outbreak, in human populations. Thankfully we now have a working vaccine -- for rings of contact -- as they emerge.

So there is much to be hopeful about. But we should not kid ourselves -- there will be another outbreak -- that's how evolutionary biology works. Per MedPage Today -- do go read it all:

. . . .A healthcare worker recovering from Ebola virus in Italy showed evidence of persistent viral infection in his lungs days after the virus was no longer detectable in his blood, researchers reported.

The case study, appearing in the journal PLOS One, represents the first direct evidence of potential replication of the virus in the lungs, suggesting that the respiratory system may play a more significant role in the pathogenesis of Ebola than previously recognized.

It also suggests the possibility of respiratory transmission of the virus, wrote Mirella Biava, of the National Institute for Infectious Diseases in Rome, and colleagues.

"The presence of viral replication markers here reported adds some support to this possibility, although the evidence is far from being conclusive, due to the absence of recovery of infectious virus in respiratory secretion," the researchers wrote. . . .

[We should hope that there will be no mutation of the basic viral structure or function, in animals, in the mean time that renders the vaccine ineffective -- as to any new strains.] To be clear -- there is cause to be optimistic here as well, as the approach Merck and NewLink employ for vaccination is to insert, in a genetically engineered simian "container", some of the killed virus. Should the virus re-emerge in a mutated fashion, Merck ought to be able to insert that sample into a new batch of the vaccine simian "containers" -- and see similar efficacy. So we will keep a positive thought, here -- as well.

Now, I will have to settle for watching our outgoing President's farewell on TV, Tuesday. The lines for tickets in Chicago -- in sub-zero wind-chills this morning, no less -- were staggering. So it goes; an era that started together -- will end. . . together, in a continued chorus of "Yes, we can". Smile.


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