If those individuals have acquired an immunity to Ebola, the strategies for the intervention and treatment of the disease need to be reconsidered, according to the letter published online yesterday in The Lancet.
“If infection without disease protects people from future Ebola infections and illness, the epidemic should decline sooner than currently predicted and affect a smaller number of people,” says Juliet Pulliam, one of the letter’s authors and an assistant professor of biology at the University of Florida and its Emerging Pathogens Institute.
The authors, led by postdoctoral fellow Steve Bellan at the University of Texas at Austin, looked at studies done in the aftermath of an outbreak.
Caregivers and Blood Donors
One shows that 71 percent of people who had close contact with Ebola patients and tested positive for the virus did not get sick. Another shows that 46 percent of people who had close contact with Ebola patients and did not get sick had evidence of infection with the virus.
“We want to know whether people who are infected without getting sick become immune,” Pulliam says. “If these people are protected from future infections, this would open up new opportunities for controlling the disease.”
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