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Ebola Virus News: Virus Found in Lungs; Merck's Vaccine Not Enough to End Epidemic

Update Date: Jan 07, 2017 09:53 AM EST

Another possible hiding place for the Ebola virus has been discovered by a recent study. Previous cases have detected it in the eyes, amniotic fluid, placenta, semen, breast milk and central nervous system and now, it can be found in the lungs. 

A newly published study in the PLOS Pathogens journal involves a healthcare worker who got infected by the virus in Sierra Leone. The patient was moved to a hospital in Rome for treatment, and during that time, doctors found that the virus has been cleared from the patient's blood plasma. What was surprising though was that they found it in the lower respiratory tract.

According to Giuseppe Ippolito of Italy's National Institute for Infectious Disease and one of the authors of the research, previous studies suggested that Ebola might cause lung damage in both animals and humans since the virus could replicate in the organ. However, there has been no direct evidence of lung infection supporting this claim until now, according to Washington Post.

In the paper, the researchers wrote that they have found viral RNA and viral replication markers in the lungs for five days. This happened after Ebola was cleared from the blood. The writers mentioned that the patient developed "significant lung injury."

Currently, the only prevention medicine available that has passed a clinical trial, showing 100 percent efficiency is Merck's vaccine. However, the vaccine does not provide a long-term solution for infected patients, according to Technology Review.

The head of the Initiative for Vaccine Research at the World Health Organization Marie-Pierre Preziosi further stated that the vaccine is only used to stop the spread of an existing outbreak.

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