Mixed News: W.H.O. Ebola Aftermath Update — 10.15.2015

First up, the good news — the W.H.O. Ebola 10-14-15 Situation Report lists no new cases, for now a second week in a row, in all of Africa. There are many contacts of prior cases being closely monitored, though — especially in rural Guinea. And in fairness, more than a handful have been lost to follow-up contact — they are not being monitored, as the authorities have no way to contact or track them, without their cooperation. But the originally vast epidemic is slowly winking out, no doubt about it. That’s good news, indeed.

The discouraging news, this week poses almost no widespread public health risk, but may suggest we really don’t understand the latency of the virus very well [earlier background, here]. The Scottish nurse who showed symptoms last week of a resurgence of the virus, after being declared “cleared” in January of 2014 — almost ten months ago — is now in “critical” condition, at the Royal Free (in isolation) with (according to published reports) menigitis like symptoms. Which is leading some to conjecture that the virus may lie dormant — for example — in spinal fluids, only to re-emerge when the host immune system is compromised by stress or fatigue. Here is the overnight New York Times reporting:

. . . .The case adds yet another terrifying layer to the Ebola outbreak: A Scottish nurse who recovered from Ebola 10 months ago has been rehospitalized and is now critically ill, the Royal Free Hospital in London reported Wednesday.

MRK-Africa-10-2015Scientists have long known that the Ebola virus can persist for months in certain tissues of the body that are relatively protected from the immune system, including the eyes and the testes. . . .

Speculation has focused on the potential role of Ms. Cafferkey’s severe initial illness, and even on the experimental treatments she and the few other patients treated in Western hospitals received. . . .

We will try to keep the Universe spinning in good karma for Pauline Cafferkey — and for all those suffering in Africa. We will remain of good hope — and good cheer. UPDATED — at least some outlets are reporting there were two new cases reported in Guinea, just yesterday evening — after the issuance date of the latest WHO report, linked in the first paragraph, above. I for one am hoping that is not true.

And. . . Onward.

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